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In Three Volumes. Royal 8re, each xSs. net. 


Authorised English Translation, edited by LuII 
Profusely Illustrated. With maps, plans, and photographs of 
basilicas, mosaics, coins, aud other memorials. 
"The present work might be described as a history of the 
medimvai Popes, with the listory of the City of Rome and of its 
civilization as a backgromd, the author's design being so to com- 
bine the two stories as to produce a true picture of what Rome 
was in the Middle Ages."--Athor' Preface. 
The three volumes now issued represent Vohme I in the bntky 
German original. This portion of Father Grisar's great enterprise 
is self-contained, and the history is brought down to the epoch of 
St. Gregory I. 
"A valuable and interesting book, well trauslated . . . will, 
we are sure, be velcomed by all students and lovers of Rome, 
whether Cath,,lic or not."--T]e Tablet. 
" Dr. Grisar's splendid history has long been the treasured 
possession of students of mediaeval art and chrch history. We 
welcome its appearance in an English translation, which has been 
executed with scrupulous care and with every advantage of type, 
paper, and illustration."--The Guardian. 

Tl*e rl.qhts o3 tra,slatlon a,d el 'etrodtction are 'esereed 


pages 166-183 
Tauler's orthodox doctrine distorted by Luther to serve his 
purpose. Passivity in the hands of God explained as the 
absence of all effort. Luther's application of Tauler's 
teaching to his own states of anxiety. His knowledge of 
Tauler ; annotations to Tauler's sermons ; the German 
nystics ; a " return to nothingness " the suprerne aim of the 
Christian pages 166-174 
Advantages of its study outweighed by disadvantage. 
Why Luther failed to becorne a true rnystic. Specirnens of his 
rnystic utterances. His edition of the " Theologia Deutsch " ; 
attitude to pseudo-Dionysits the Areopagite, St. Bernard and 
Gerson ; an excerpt frorn his " Operationes in psalmos " 
pages 175-183 

THE COMMENTARY ON ROMANS (1515-16) pages 184-261 
Deififle the first to ntilise the Cornrnentary on Romans. 
Ficker's recent edition of the original. General rernarks on the 
Cornrnentary. Ahn of St. Paul according to Luther pages 184-187 
Luther's " more profound theology " and unconditional 
predestination to hell ; God's will that the icked be damned. 
God to be approached in fear and despair, not with works 
and in the hope of reward. The rnystic on resioaation to.hell. 
Man's will and his salvation entirely in God's hands. Ob- 
jections : Is it not God's will that all be saved ? Why impose 
cornrnandrnents which the will is not free to perform ? Un- 
perceived inconsistencies pages 187-197 
Luther's aversion to works and observances. His rude 
description of the " Observants " and " Justiciaries." The 
very word "righteousness " a cause of vexation pa 197-202 
Human nature entirely spoiled by original sin. Being 
unable to fulfil the command "Non concupiaces," we are ever 
siuning rnortally. Uncertainty of salvation; the will not 
free for good. Interpretation of Rona. viii. 2 f. Against 
Scholasticism. In penance and confession no removal 
(ablatio) of sin. pages 202-209 
The habit of sanctifying grace ; " cursed be the word 
"formatum charitale'"; sin coexistent with grace in the 
good rnan ; Augustine on concupiscence. " Nothing is of its 
own nature good or bad " ; tlm Occa.rnist acceptation-theory 
against the " Aristotelian " definition of virtue and the 
scholastic doctrine that virtues and vices are qualities of the 
soul pages 209-213 


Christ's grace does all, and yet mau disposes himself for 
justification. Man's self-culture. Inconsistencies explained 
by reminiscences of his early Catholic training pages 213-214 

Imputation pplied to justietion. .other's righteo- 
heSS *s imputed to us nd beeon]es ours ; s remains, but  
no longer eeounted ; our inability %o ow -hether Christ's 
righteousuess has been imputed to us. Advantage of fear. 
" He who renounces his o self and willingly faces death 
and damnation " is truly humble, and in such humility is 
safety. Faith not yet substituted for htmility. Passivity 
again emphasised pages 214-222 

The back place already taken in Luther's mind by the 
Church and her teaching-office ; his preference for a theology 
of his own invention. Our duty of not, judging Luther by the 
later Tridentine decrees. }Iis Catholic sentiments on the 
hierarchy ; denounces abuses whilst respecting the rights of 
the Roman Church ; desiderates a reduction of festivals ; re- 
proves Bishops for insisting on their rights instead of 
rejoicing to see them itffringed. On listening to the inner 
voice pages 223-230 

Luther's ndsapprehension of Tauler and other mystics 
clearly proved in the Commentary. Quietisrn. The " Spark 
in the Sou]." The " Theology of the Cross." The " iNight 
of the Soul." Readiness for hell the joy of the truly 
Christ and Paul the Apostle, two instances of such readiness 
pages 230-240 

Its witness to the unsettled state of the writer's mind. 
Texts and conn]entaries ut.ilised ; neglect of Aquinas's 
Conm]entary ; the author's style ; obscenity and paradox ; 
a tilt at the philosophers ; the character of the work rather 
spoilt by unnecessary polemics. Appeal to Augustine. 
Misuse of theological terms. " The word of God is every 
word which proceeds from the mouth of a good man." Con- 
tradiction a criterion of truth. All the prophets against 
observances. Unconscious self-contradiction on the subject 
of freedom. Whether any progress is apparent in the course 
of the Commentary. Comparison of Luther's public utter- 
antes with those in the Commentary. Some excerpts from 
the Commentary on Hebrews ._... pages 241-261 


NoTE.--The following is an alphabetical list of the books, 
etc., referred to in an abbreviated form in the com'se of ore" work, 
the title under which they are quoted in each case figuring first. 
For the Bibliography of Luther generally, we may refer to 
the following: E. G. Vogel, " Bibliographia Lutheri," Halle, 
1851; I. A. Fabricius, " Centifolium Lutheranum," 2 parts, 
Hamburg, 1728-1730 ; Win. Matrenbrecher, " Studien und 
S -ldzzen," Leipzig, 1874, l). 205 ft. (a good list of the studies on 
Luther and his work). The articles on Luther in the " I)eutsche 
Biogral)hie," ifi the Catholic "Kirchenlexikon " (2nd ed.), 
and the Protestant "Realenzyklopfidie fiir Theologie," etc., 
also provide more or less detailed bibliographies. So also 
do W. MSler, " Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte," vol. 3, ed. 
by Kawerau (3rd ed., particularly p. 4 ff.) ; HergenrSther, "Lehr- 
buch der Kirchengeschichte," vol. 3, 3rd ed., by J. P. Kitsch 
(particularly 1 ). 4 ff.) ; Janssen-Pastor, " Geschichte des 
deutschen Volkes," etc. (in the lists at the commencement of 
each vol., particularly vols. ii. and iii.). The bibliogral)hical data 
added by various writers in the prefaces to the various works of 
Luther in the new Breimar complete edition are not only colgious 
but also often quite reliable, for instance, those on the German 

" Analecta Lutherana, Briefe und Aktenstiicke zur Geschichte 
Luthers, Zugleich ein Supplement zu den bisherigen 
Sammlungen seines Briefwechsels," ed. by Th. Kolde, 
Gotha, 1883. 
"Analecta Lutherana et 5Ielanchthoniana," see Mathesius, 
" Aufzeichnungen." 
" Archly fiir Reformationsgeschichte. Texte und Untersuch- 
ungen. In Verbindung mit dem Verein fiir Reformations- 
geschichte," ed. W. Friedensburg. Berlin, later Leipzig, 
1903-1904 ff. 

Balan, P., " 5fonumenta reformationis Lutherane ex tabulariis 
S. Sedis secretis, 1521-1525," Ratisbone, 1883, 1884. 
Barge, H., "Andreas Bodenstein yon Karlstadt," 2 vols., 
Leipzig, 1905. 
]eatus Ihenanus, see Correspondence. 


Berger, A., "Martin Luther in kultttrgeschichtlicher Darstellung." 
2 vols., Berlin, 1895-1898. 
Bezold, F. yon, "Gesdfichte der deutsdmn Reformation," 
Berlin, 1890. 
"Bibliothek des Kgl. Preussischen Historischen Institut.s in 
Rom," lome, 1905 ft. 
Blaurer, see Correspondence. 
BShmer, H., " Luther im Liehte der neueren Forsehung" (from 
" Natur und Geisteswelt," No. lla), Leipzig, 1906, 2nd ed., 
Brandenburg, E., " Luthers Ansehauung yon Staat und Gesell- 
sctmft " (Schriftcn des Vereins fiir leforlnationsgeschichte), 
Hft. 70, Halle, 1901. 
Braun, W., " Die Bedeutung der Concupiscenz in Luthers Leben 
und Lehrc," Berlin, 1-908. 
" Briefe," see Letters. 
" Briefwecbsel," see Correspondence. 
Bl'ieger, Th., "Aleander und Luther. Die vervollstiindigten 
Aleander-Depeschen nebst Untersuclmngen fiber den Worm- 
set" Reichstag," I, Gotha, 188. 
Burkhardt, C. A., " Geschichte der sichsischen Kirchen- und 
Schulvisitationen yon 152-155," Leipzig, 1879. 

Calvini, I., " Opera qum supersunt omnia, ediderunt O. Braun, 
E. Cunitz, F,. Beuss," 59 vol. (29-87 in the " Corpus 
Beformatoruln"), Brunsvige, 1863-1900. 
Cardauns, L., " Zur Geschichte der -kirchlichen Unions- und 
Reformbestrebungen von 1538-152" ("Bibliothek des 
Kgl. Preuss. I-Iistorischen Instituts in Rein," vol. 5), Rome, 
-- see " Nuntiaturberichte." 
Cochlmus, I., " Conmmntaria de a(.tis et scriptis M. Lutheri . . . 
ab a. 1517 usque ad a. 1537 conscripta," Moguntim, 1549. 
(" Colloquia," ed. Bindseil), Bindseil, H. E., " D. Martini Lutheri 
Colloquia, Meditationes, Consolationes, Iudicia, Sententim, 
Narrationes, Responsa, Facetim e codice ms. Bibliothecm 
Orphanotrophei Ilalensis cure perpetua collatione editionis 
Rebenstocldane edita et prolegomenis indicibusque in- 
structa," 3 voll., Lemgovie et Detmoldm, 1863-1866. 
("Commentarius in Epist. ad Galat."), "M. Lutheri Com- 
mentarius in Epistolam ad Galatas," ed. I. A. Irmischer, 
3 yell., Erlangm, 183 sq. 



" Table-Talk," see " Tischreden." 
" Tischreden oder Colloquia M. Luthers," ed. Aurifaber, 2 vols., 
Eisleben, 1564-1565. 
(Tischreden ed. FSrstemann), F6rstemann, K. ]., " Dr. Martin 
Luthers Tischreden oder Colloquia. Nach Aurifabers erster 
Ausgabe mit sorgfilt.iger Vergleichung sowohl der Stangwald- 
ischen als der Sehmccerschen Rcdaktion," 4 vols. (4th vol. 
ed. with assistance of H. E. Bindseil), Leipzig, 1844-1848. 

Ulenberg, C., " Historia de Vita... Lutheri, Melanchthonis, 
Matth. Flacii llly-ici, G. Maioris et Andr. Osiandri," 2 yell., 
Colonim, 1622. 

(" Vita Lutheri "), "Melanchthonis Philit)l)i Vita Lutheri," in 
"Vitae, quatuor reformatorum," Berolini, 1841. Also in 
" Corp. lef." 6, p. 155 sq. and previously as Preface to the 
2nd vol. of the Wittenbe Latin edition of Luther's works. 

Walther, W., " F[ir Luther, Wider Rein. Handbuch der Apolo- 
get.ik Luthers mad der Ieformation den r6mischen Anklagen 
gegeniiber," Halle a/S., 1906. 
Weiss, A. M., O.P., " Lutherl)sycllologie als Schlfissel zur Luther- 
legende. Denifles Untersuchungen kritisch nachgeprfift," 
Mayence, 1906; 2nd ed., 1906. 
-- " Luther und Luthertum," 2, see Denifle. 
(" SVerke," Erl. ed.), " M. Luthers Silntliche SVerke," 67 vols., ed. 
J. G. Plochmann and J. A. Irlnischer, Erlangen, 1826-1868, 
vols. 1-20 and 24-26, 2nd ed., ed. L. Enders, Frankfm't a/M., 
1862 ft. To the Erl. ed. belong also the Latin " Opp. Lat. 
exeg.," the " Commentar. in Epist. ad. Galat.," the " Opp. 
Lat. var.," and the Correspondence (Briefechsel) ed. by 
Enders (see under these four titles). 
-- Veim. ed., " Dr. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamt- 
ausgabe," Weimar, 1883 ft., ed. J. Knaake, G. Kawerau, 
1 ). Pietseh, N. Miiller, K. Drescher and V. SValther. So far 
(Jan., 1911) there have appeared vols. 1-9: 10, l, 2, 3; 
11-16; 17, 1; 18-20; 23-29; 30, 2;3; 32; 33; 34, l, 2; 
36; 37. "Deutsche Bibel (1522-1541)," 2 vols. with 
--Altenburg ed., 1661-1664, l0 vols. (German); reprinted 
Leipzig, 1729-1740, 22 vols. 
--Eisleben ed. ("Supplement zur Vittenberger und Jenaer 
Ausg."), ed. J. Aurifaber, 2 vols., 1564-1565. 

"Werke," Halle ed., ed. J. G.Valch, 24vols., 1740-1753 (German), 
"/Xeue Ausgabe im Auftrage des Ministeriums der deutschen 
evangelisch-lutherischen Synode von Missouri, Ohio und 
andern Staaten," St. Louis, Me., Zwickau, Schriftenverein, 
22 vols., 1880-1904, 23 (index), 1910. 
-- Jena ed., 8 vols. of German and 4 vols. of Latin writings, 1555- 
1558 ; re-edited later. 
--la'ittenberg ed., 12 vols. of German (1539-1559) and 7 vols. 
of Latin writings (1545-1558). 
 " Auswahl," ed. Buchwld, Kacrau, KSstlin, etc., 8 vols., 
3rd ed., Brunswick and Berlin, 1905 ft. ; also 2 supl>le- 
mentary vols. 
Wiedcmann, Th., " Johann Eck, ;Professor der Theologie an der 
Universitiit Ingolstadt," Ratisbon, 1865. 
"Vorks (Luther's), see " Vcrke." 

" Zeitsehrift fiir katholische Theologie," Innsbruck, 1877 ft. 
"-- ftir Kirchengesehiehte," ed. Th. Brieger, Gotha, 1877 ft. 
"-- fiir Theologic und Kirche," Tiibingen, 1890 ft. 
" Zwinglii H. Opera. Completa prima cur. II. Sehulero 
et H. Sehulthessio," 8 voll. (voll. 7 et 8 " epistolm"), 
Turiei, 1828-1842. In "Corpus P, eformatorum" (2 vols.), 
veil. 88-89, Berlin and Leipzig, 19(5-1908. 

the surface" and a mere "ingenious make-believe," 
employed only in order the better to de.ccive the reader. 
They took it. upou themselves to declare it. impossible that 
certain charges made agaiust Luther should have been 
minimised by mc iu real earnest, and various good aspects of 
his character adnfittcd frankly and with conviction. Such 
discoveries, as far-fetched as they arc wanting in courtesy, 
may bc left to take care of themselves, though I shall not bc 
surprised to bc again made the object of similar personal 
insults on the a.ppcarance of this book. 
I may, howex:cr, assure Protestant readers in general, 
whose cstccm for Luther is great and who may bc dis- 
agreeably affected by certain passages in this book which are 
new to them, that the idea of offcuding them by a single 
word was very far from my intention. I ant well aware, and 
the many years I have passed at home in a couutry of which 
the population is partly Catholic and partly Protcsta.nt have 
made it still clearer to nlc, how Protestants carry out in all 
good faith and accordiug to their lights the practice of their 
rcligiou. Merely iu vicxv of these, and quite apart from the 
gravity of the subject itself, everything that could be looked 
on as a challenge or au iusult should surely bc avoided as a 
stupid blunder. I would therefore ask that the book bc 
judged impartially, and without allowing feelings, iu them- 
selves quite natural, to interfere unduly ; let the reader ask 
himself simply whether each assertion is, or is not, proved 
by the facts and witnesses. As regards the author, hovever, 
he would ask his readers to remember that ve Catholics (to 
quote the words of a. Swiss writer)" are not. prevented by 
the viev we hold of the Church, from rejoicing over all that 
our separated brethren throughout the vorld have preserved 
of the inheritance of Christ, and display in their lives, that, 
on the eoutrary, our best. and sincerest esteem is for the bona 
tides of those who think otherwise than we " (" Sehwei- 
zerisehe Krehenzetun, 1910, No. 52, December 29). 
With regard to " inconvenient facts," Friedrieh Paulsen 
wrote in his " Gesehiehte des gelehrten Unterriehts " (I", 
1896, p. 196) : " If Protestant. historians had not yielded so 
nmeh to the inclination to slur over iueonvenient facts, 
Jaussen's ' I-Iistory of the German People ' [English trans., 
1901-1909] would not. have made the impression it. did 
surely an 'inconvenient fact' for ninny Protestants." The 



pelled to have recourse to the older German and Latin collections 
of the stone, together with the original notes mentioned above 
(p. xx.). Of the German collection, in addition to the work of 
Aurifaber, the "Tischreden " of FSrstemann-13indseil and of the 
Erlangen edition (vols. lvii.-lxii.) have been used, and, for the 
Latin collection, I3indseil's careful edition (see 17. xvi. f.). 
From among the large number of lives of Luther which have 
been consulted I shall mention only the two latest, one by a 
Catholic, Denifle, and the other by two Protestants, K6st]in and 

It is hardly ncccssary to say, that I brought to the study 
of tile two last-mentioned works an absolutely independent 
judgment. The information--universally acknowledged 
a.s extremely vahmblcsupplied by Deniflc's ponderous 
volumes on thc relation bctwecn Luther's theology and that 
of the Middlc Ages, was of considerable service to me. To 
K6stlin's biography of Luthcr, eontimcd bv Kawcrau, I am 
indebted for some useful data. with regard to the history and 
chronology of Luther's writings. 
This most detailed of the Protestant biographies, and the 
most frequently quoted by me, offers this further advantage 
that in its judgment of Luther, his life's work, and his 
personal qualitics, it oeeupics a. middlc line between two 
Protestant extremes. K6stlin having bclongcd to the so- 
called intcrmcdiary school of theology, the author, in his 
delineation of Luther, avoids alike certain excesses of tile 
conservatives and the caustic, subtilising criticism of the 
rationalists. There is no such thing as a simple " Protestant 
opinion" on Luther; and l(6stlin's intermediary trea.tment 
is tile one least likely to lead a. Catholic to commit an in- 
justice against either of the extreme parties in Protestantism. 
Does a Catholic opinion exist with regard to Luther's 
personal qualities and his fate ? Does the ninth-discussed 
work of Denifle represent tile " Catholic feeling " ? That it 
does has frequently been asserted by those most strongly 
opposed to DeniIle. Yet Dcnifle's manner of regarding 
Luther was, on the whole, by no means simply " Catholic," 
hut lm'gely biassed by his individual opinion, as indeed has 
ever been the appreciation by Catholic authors of the 
different points of Imther's character. Only on those points 
could Dcnifle's opinion strictly be styled " Catholic " where 
he makes the direct a.eknowlcdgment of dogmas and the 
essential orga.nisttion of the Church the standard for 

Luther's views and reforms ; and in this he certainly had 
on his side the rclmdiation of Luther by all Catholics. A 
" Catholic opinion," in any other sense than the above, is 
the sheerest nonsense, and the learned l)ominican vould 
certainly have been tile last to make such a claim on his 
own behalf. The prescit writcr 1)rotcsts beforehand against 
any such intcrl)rctatiol being l)laccd 011 his work. Tile 
following statements, whether they differ frOlU or agree with 
those of Denifle, must be looked on as a mere attempt to 
express what appears to the author to be clearly contained 
in the sources whence his information comes. In all purely 
historical questions, in questions of fact and their inferences, 
tile Catholic investigator is entirely free, and decides purely 
and silnply to the best of his knowh'dgc alKl conscience. 
A list of Luther's writings with tile volumes in which they 
occur in the last two editions, as well as a dctaih.d index of 
subjects and names at the end of the sixth volume, will 
facilitate the use of this work. 
The author would like to take this opportunity of ex- 
pressing his most cordial thanks to the Royal Bavarian 
Library of Munich, and also to the University Library in 
that city, for the friendly a.ssistanec rendered hiln. These 
rich sources of information have afforded him, during his 
frequent and lengthy visits to tile Bavarian capital, what 
the libraries of Rome, which he had been in the habit of 
consulting f>r his IIistory of Rome and the Popes of the 
Middle Ages (Eng. trans., 3 vols., 1911-12), eoukl not supply 
on the subject here treated. The author will now return to 
the exploitation of the treasures of lolne and to the task he 
originally undertook and hopes to bring out, in the near 
future, a further volume of the IIistory of Rome. 
MUNICH, January 1, 1911. 

V{L. I 

comfortablc household, furnishing him ith food and lodging. 
Luther, in his old age, recalled with great gratitude the 
memory of his noble benefactress. 1 
As a boy hc had experienced but little of life's pleasures 
and received small kindness from the world ; bu now life's 
horizon brightened somewhat for the growing youth. 
Full of enthusiasm for the career mal)l)cd ou for him by 
his father, that, namely, of the Law, he went in the summer 
of 1501 to the University of Erfurt. ]Iis parents' finaucial 
circumstances had meanwhile somewhat improved as the 
result of his father's industry in the mines at Mansfeld. 
The assidu()us student was therefore no longer dependent on 
the help of strangers. Accordi t) some writers he took 
up his al)odc in St. George's II-stcl. z IIc was entered in the 
Matri('ulatit)n ll(.gister of the Erfurt lligh School as " Mar- 
tinus Ludhcr cx Man.felt," md for some considerable time 
after he continued t() spell his family name as Luder, a form 
which is also to be f(amd Ul) to the bt.gimfing of the seven- 
tcenth c('nturv in the case of others (Liidcr, Luider, Lcudcr). 
From 1512 hc 1)cgan. however, t() sign himself " Luthcrus " 
or " Luther. ''a The lectures on philosophy, understood in the 
widest sense of the term, which he lirs attended were 
dt.livcrcd at the University of Erfurt 1)y compartivcly 
capable teachers, some of whom belonged to the Augustinian 
Order. The Catholic spirit of the Middle Ages still per- 
moated the teaching and the whole life ()f the little republic 
of lcarnin'. As yet, learning was still cast in the mould of 
the traditional scholastic method, and the men, equally 
devoted to the Church and to their 1)rofcssion, who were 
Luthtr's principal teachers, 3odocus Trutfcttcr of Eiscnach 
and Bartholomew Arnoldi of Usingcn, a later an Augustinian, 
were well versed in the scholastic spirit of the day. 
Alongside the tra(litiomd teaching of the schools there 
already existed in Erfurt and the ncighbourhood another, 
viz. that of the IIumanists, or so-called poets, which, though 
largely at variance with Scholasticism, was cultivated by 
many ()f the best minds (,f the day. Luther, with his vivacity 
of thought and feeling, couhl not long remaia a stranger to 
a MaHesius, " Historien," BI. 3. 
2 K6stlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 744, n. 1, p. 31. 
z Ibid., 1, p. 754, n. 2, p. 166. 
a N. Paul,, "Bart.holomus Arnoldi yon Usingen," Freiburg 
Breisgau, 1893. 

througfi tfic merits of thc Redeemer, and after earnest 
preparation of thc soul, truc forgiveness may bc obtained, 
and that through the cross of Christ, and tfirough it alone, 
wc can do all things necessary, cvcn iu thc midst of the 
bittcrcst assaults. . 
Luther, however, too often responded to such admonitions 
only by cherishing his own views thc more. ]Ic continued 
morbidly to torment himself. This self-torture, at any ratc 
during the first enthusiastic days of his rcligious lift', may 
have assumed the form of pious scrul)]cs , but. later it gradu- 
ally took on another clmractcr under the influence of bodily 
affections. ]Ic did not, likc other scrupulous 1)crsons, regain 
his pcacc of mind, because, led away by his distorted and 
excited fa.ncy, hc liked, as hc himsdf admits, to dwell on 
the (loubts as to whether the counsds he received were not 
illusivn and dcccl)tion. Sad cxpcrienee taught him into 
what devious paths and to " what a. state of inward unrest, 
self-will and self-sufficiency are capable of leading a man. '' 
The Superior or Vicar-General of the Saxon or German 
Augustinian Congregation to which Luther bchmgcd was 
a,t that time Johann Staupitz, a man highly csteemcd in 
the world of learning and culture. 
IIe rcqucntly visited Erfurt and had thus the opportunity 
of talking to the new brother whom the University had 
given fiim, and who nm.y well have attracted his attention 
by his careworn look, his restless rammer and his peculiar, 
bright, deep-set eyes. Staupitz soon began to have a. great 
esteem for him. l-Ie had great influence over Luther, though 
unable to free lfim from the strange spirit, already too 
deeply rooted. To the sad doubts concerning his own salva- 
tion whiefi Brother Martiu laid before him, Staupitz replied 
by exhorting him as follows in the spirit of the Catholic 
Church: " Why torment yoursclf with such thoughts and 
broodings ? Look at the wounds of Christ and IIis Blood 
shed for you. There you will see your predestination to 
heaven shining forth to your comfort. ''= Quite rightly he 
impressed upon him, in the matter of confcssi(m and penance, 
that the princilml thing was to arouse in himself the will 
to love God and righteousness, and that he must not 1)ausc 
before unfiealthy imaginations of sin. The lines of thought, 
 To Leiffer, ibid. 
 "Lutheri Opp. Lat. exeg.," 6, p. 296. 

however, which the imaginative and emotional young man 
laid bare to him, were probably at times somewhat strange, 
and it is Luther himself who relates that Staul)itz once said 
to him : " Master Martin, I fail to understand that." 
In spite of his inward fears Luther l)ersevercd, which 
goes to prove the strength of will which vas always one of 
his characteristics. As the Order ws satisfied with him, hc 
was admitted a.t the end of the year of novitiate to pro- 
fcssion 1)y the taking of the tbrcc Vows of thc Order. IIc 
received on this occasion thc name of Augustine, lint always 
1)referred to it his 1)al)tisnml name of Martin. The text of 
thc Vows which hc read ah,ud solemnly 1)eforc thc altar, 
according to custom, in the presence of the Prior Winand of 
])iedenhofen and Ml the 1)rothers, was as follows: " I, 
]3tother Augustine Luder, make l)rofession and vow obedi- 
ence to Al,nighty God, Blessed Mary ever Virgin and to 
thee Father Prior. in thc namc of, and as rcl)rcscnting the 
Superior-General of the IIermits of St. Augustine, and his 
mwccssors, likcwisc to lix c without property and in chastity 
until death, according to thc lhflc (,f our IIoly Father 
Au.ustme. The young monk, vohmtarilv and aftcr due 
consideration, had thus taken upon himself the threefold 
yoke of Christ by the three Vows, i.e. by the most solemn 
and sacred promise which it is possible to make on earth. 
lie had l)omd himself by a sacred oath to God to prepare 
himself for heaven by treading a 1)ath of life in which per- 
feetion is sought in the carrying out of the evangelical 
counsels of our Saviour, and throughout his life to combat 
the teml)tations of the world with the weapons of poverty, 
chastity and obedience. 
Such was the solcnm Vow, which, latter on, he declared to 
have been M)solutely worthless. 
2. Fidelity to his new calling; his temptations 
After making his l)rofcssion the young religious was set 
by his Erfurt superiors to study theology, which was taught 
1)rivately in the monastery. 
The theological fare served up by the teachers of the Order 
was not very inviting, consisting as it largely did of the nacre 
verbalism of a Scholasticism in decay. With the exception 
of the Sentences of Peter Lombard, the students at the 
Erfurt monastery did not study the theological works of the 


usually assail so bitterly the lllollk who is striving after per- 
fection. Satan generally tempts him but slightly, and, more 
especially as regards tcmptatitms of the flesh, the lmvice is 
left in eomlmralive peace, " i,dt'ed, nothing ,plears t him 
more agreeahle than chastdy. But, aftt'r that time, 
so he tells us, he himself had to bewii ot mlv fears and 
doubts, but also numberless temptatitms which " his age 
brought along with it.""- lie felt himself at the some time 
troubled with duhts as to his vocation and by " violent 
movemets of hatred, envy, quarrelsomeness and pride." 
" I vas unable to rid myself of the weight ; horrible and 
terrifying thoughts (' horreodce el tcrrifiece eogitctiooes '), 
stormed in upon me. ''a Temptations t despair of his salva- 
tion and to blaslheme God tormeutcd him more espeei:flly. 
Ile had often wondered, he stays on one occasion to his 
father Ilms, whether he was the oMv mn whom the devil 
thus attacked and persecuted,  and later he comforted 
who was in great anxiety with the words : " When beset 
with the greatest temptations I could scarcely retain my 
bodily powers, hardly kee l) my breath, and no one was ab]c 
to eomfirt me. All those to whom I eomlflined nnswered 
' I know nothing about it,' so that I used to sigh ' Is it I 
alone who am plagued with the spirit of sorrow  ' '' 
Ile thinks that he learned the nature of these temptatios 
from the PsMms, and that he had by experience made close 
acquaintance with the verse of the Bible : " Every night I 
will vash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears " 
(Ps. vi. 7). Satan with his temptations was the murderer 
of mankind; but, notwithstanding, one nmt not despair. 
Luther here speaks of visions granted him, and of angels 
who after ten years brought him consolation in hissolitude ; 
these statements we shall examine later. 
Elsewhere he again recounts how Staupitz encouraged 
him and the manner in which he interpreted his advice 
reveals a singular self-esteem. Staupitz had pointed out to 
him the interior trials endured by holy men, who had been 
purified by temptation, and, after having been humbled. 
1 " Opp. Lat. vat.," 6, p. 364 ; "Verke," Veim. ed., 8. p. 660. 
 "Opp. Lat. exe., p. 19, 100. 
t To Hier. Veller (July ?), 1530, Briefec el, 8, p. 160. 
 " Opp. Lat. vat., 6, pp. 240 :  erke, Veim. ed., 8, p. 574. 
 " Coil.," ed. Bindseil, 2, p. 295, on Hieronymus Veller. 

disapl)ointlncnt he says he underwent--that all works of 
the Papists, cvcn those of the most pious, holy and mortified, 
wcrc absolutely worthless for l)rocuring truc peace for the 
soul thirsting after salvation, and that the Catholic Church 
was quite unable by her teaching to reconcile a soul with 
God. IIistory merely tells us that he vas all observant 
mollk who kept tile Rule, and. for that reason, enjoyed tile 
confidence of his superiors. 1 
Relying upon his ability and his achicvclncnts, Staupitz, 
the Vicar, smmnoncd him ill the autumn of 1508, to Wittcn- 
bclX, in order that hc lnight there contilmc his studies and 
at the same tilnc COlmnCnCC his work as a teacher on a 
hulnblc scale. 
As Master of Philosophy Luther gave lectures on the 
Ethics of Aristotle and probably also on Dialectics, though, 
as hc hilnsclf says, hc would have l)rcfcrrcd to lnount the 
chair of Theology, for which hc already esteemed hilnsclf 
fitted, and which, with its higher tasks, attracted him nmch 
lnorc than philosol)hy. Ill March, 1509, hc was ah'cady the 
recipient of a theological dcgrcc and entered the Faculty as 
a " Baccalaurcus Biblicus." This authoriscd him to deliver 
lectures on the I[olv Scriptures at the University. 
Ill tile salne 3"ear. however, prol)ably ill the late autulnn, 
Luther's career at Wittenberg was interrupted for a tilne 
by his being sent back to Erfurt. With regard to the reasons 
for this uothing is known with certainty, but a movement 
which was going forward ill tile Congregation nlay have been 
the cause. Iu the question of the stricter observance which 
had recently been raised among the Augustiuians, and which 
will be treated of below, Luther had not sided with the 
Wittenberg lnonastery but with his older friends at Erfurt. 
He was opposed to certain administrative regulations pro- 
rooted by Staupitz, which, ill the opinion of lllally, threat- 
ened the future discipline of the Order. At any rate, he had to 
return to Erfurt just as he was about to become " Seu- 
tentiarius," i.e. to be prolnoted to the olfiee of lecturing oil 
the "Magister Sententiariuln." For these lectures, too, he 
had already qualified himself. IIis second stay at Erfurt 
and the part--so important for the understanding of his 
later life--which he played ill the disputes of the Order, 
 See below, volume vi., eap. xxxvii., where these questions are 
tread more fully. 

opponent accuses him openly of having indulged in the 
grossest vice during his academic years, and mentions as 
his infornmnt one of the COluradcs who had, later on, 
aeeompanied Luther to the gates of the lnonastery. 1 He 
says nothing, 1)cl'haps, indeed, he knew nothing more 
definite, and with regard to Luther's life in religion, he is 
mml)lc t.o adduce anything to his discredit. 
But yet another of Luther's later adversaries has strong 
words for our hero's early life. lIis testimony, which has 
not so fa.r been dealt with, must be treated of here because 
such charges, if well f()uuded, doubtless contribute much 
to the 1)syehologieal exl)lanatiou of the 1)roecsscs going for- 
ward in Luther. This testimony is given 1)y IIicronvluus 
Eraser of l)resden, who, it is true, was himself 1)y no means 
spotless, and who, on that account, was roundly rel)rinmaded 
by the ma.n he had attaekc(l. IlL his rejoinder to Luther, a 
palnphlct 1)ublishcd in 1520, and the only one preserved, 
he says : " Was it necessary on account of my letter that 
you should hold up to 1)ublie execration my former deviatious 
which are indeed, for the most part, lnere iuventious ? 
What do you think has come to my ears concerning your 
own eriluinal deeds (' fla.gilia, ') ? " lie will be silent about 
them, he says, beeause he does not wish to return evil for 
evil, but be eontilmes : "That you also fell, I nmst attribute 
to the Salne cause which brought about my own fall, namely, 
the want of lmblie discipline in our days, so that young lncn 
live as they please without fear of punishlnent and do just 
what they like. '' We must remember that at Erfurt 
Elnser aud Luther had stood in the relation of teacher and 
disciple. His words, like those of Dmgersheim written from 
Leipzig, voice tile opinion on Luther later on current in 
the hostile University eirelcs of Erfurt. 
When Luther in his later )'ears speaks of the " sins of 
his youth," this, iu his grotesquely anti-catholic vocabulary, 
mcaus tile good works of his monastic life, even the ech'bra- 
tion of IIoly Mass. Once, however, at the end of his tract 
on the Last Sul)per (1528), a speaking of the silts of his youth, 
 " Dadelung des 13ekenntnus," p. 15", 16. 
- " A venatione Luteriana :Egocerotis assertio," s.l.e.a.E, 5'. 
a "Werke, ' Erl. ed.. 30, p. 372 : " Although I have been a great, 
gTIevous, shameful sinner and have wasted and spent my youth 
damnably," yet his greatest sins were that he had been a monk and 
had said Mass. 


assumption to which Luther's friends still cling with such 
affection, namely, that frolll the very commencement of his 
journey to Rome he had been " haunted by the Bible text 
concerning justification by faith," at a time " when he 
still was striving to serve God by his own works," must be 
struck out of history as a mere fiction.  
At Rome Luther's conviction of the authority of the 
][oly See was in no wise shaken, in spite of what some people 
have thought. All the scandals had not been able to achieve 
this. As late as 1516 hc was still 1)reaching in entire accord- 
ancc with the traditional doctrine of the ('hureh on thc 
l))vcr of the Pal)aey, and it is worth while to quote his 
vr(ls in oler to shrew the ('atholic thoughts which engaged 
him vhih, wan(lcring through the streets of Rome. " If 
Christ had not entrusted all 1)owcr to one man, the ('hurch 
w,,uld not have ])c('n pcrfc('t 1)ccausc there would havc 
('(. m or(h,r and each one would have been able to shy hc 
was l('(l by the lhdv Spirit. This is what the heretics did, 
('a('h ore" setting u l) his ovn princil)lc. In this way as many 
('lmr(.hcs arose as tht'rc wcre ]wads. Christ theft,fore wills, 
in r(h'r that all may bc ass(,mbl(.d in one unity, that His 
Pt)w(,r bc cx('rcis(,d by one man to whom also IIc commits 
it. ]Ic has, however, mmlc this Povcr so strong that 
] Ic looses all the 1)ovcrs of ]h'll (without injury) against it. 
]Ic says : ' The gates of ]Icll shall not 1)rcvail against it,' 
as though lie said : ' They will fight against it but never 
)vcroomc it,' so that in this wa.v it is made manifest that 
this l)Ow,r is in reality from G)d and m)t from man. Where- 
h,rc whoever breaks away from this unity and ordcr of the 
P)w('r, ]ct him m)t bost of great cnlightcmncnt and won- 
(l(.rful v,rks, as our Pieards and other heretics do, ' for nmch 
b(,tt(,r is (,bcdicncc than the victims of fl)ols who know not 

 On his own account Paul was only a boy of eleven when he heard 
this statement from his father ; it is therefore very doubtful whether 
he understood and renembercd it correctly. Luther wouhl strely returned to the subject more frequently had it really played so 
great a part in his development, especially as he speaks so often of 
journey to lome. O. Scheel in his recent thesis on the development of 
Luther down to the time of the conclusion of the lectures on the Epistle 
to the Romans (" Schriften des Vereins f(ir Reformationsgesch, Nr. 
] 00, Jubilumsschrift," 1910, pp. t;1- 230), quite correctly says : "" It is 
pos.ible that his son, knowing of what importance ]R.omans i. 17 had 
become for Luther, my at a lxter date have combined these words 
with the Roman incident." In any case, the objections with regard to 
this incident are so grent thxt little can be nmde out of it.. 

the ancient classics which he loved, but there was a great. 
difference between this and the being in COml)letc intellectual 
communion with the later lImnanists, whose aims were in 
many respects opposed to lhe Church's. Thanks to the 
practical turn of his mind, the study of the ela.ssies, which 
he occasionally continued later, never engaged his attention 
or fascinated him to the extent it did certain l[unmnists of 
the Rcnaissanec, who saxv in the revival of classic Paganism 
the salvation of mankind. As a young l)rofcssor at the 
University he was not, however, able to eSCnl)e entirely 
the influence of the liberalism of the age, with its one-sided 
and ill-considered opposition to so many of the (,lder 
elements of culture, an (,l)position which might easily 
prove as detrimental as a 1)lind and I)iasst'd defcnec )f the 
older order. 
It is not necessary to (lem(mslrate here how dangerous 
a spirit of ('hange and ]ibertinism was I)cing iml)(.rted in 
the I)ooks (,f the Italian lhtmaists, or I)y the German 
students who had attcndc(i their lcclurcs. 
With rcgar(i to Luther l)crsonally, wc know that hc not 
only had some connection with Mutian, the leader of a 
ntm'ement, whi(.h at that time was still chielly literary, 
also that .h,hann Lang at once f,rwarded to Mutian a 
lecture against the m,rals of the " little Saints " of his Order 
delivered I)y Luther at Gotha in 1515.  Luther also excused 
himself in a very respectful letter to this leader of the 
llumanists for not having calld on him uhcn passing 
through (aotha in 1516.  Luther's most i.timatc friend, 
Lang, through who,hi hc seems t() have entered into a cer- 
tain exchange of ideas with lhmmnism, was an enthusiastic 
lIumanist and possessed of great literary connections. 
Lang, for his part, Sl)caks highly to Mutian of the assistance 
rendered him in his studies by Luther,. a There can therefore 
bc no doubt that Luther was no stranger to the cfh)rts 
the lIumanists, to their bold and incisive criti('ism (ff the 
traditional methods, to their new idealism and their spirit 
of independence. Many of lhc ideas which lillcd the air 
those days had doubtless an attraction for and exerted 

Kolde, " I)ie deutsche Augustinerkongregation," p. 263 ; '" Brief- 
wechsel," l, p. 36, n. 5. 
Letter of May 29, 1516, '" Briefwechsel," l, p. 35. 
Lang to 5Iutian, May 2, 1515, '" 13riefvechsel," l, p. 36, n. 5. 

an inlluencc (,n the (q)cn-hcartcd, receptive disposition 
of the talented monk. 
Luthcr's fricldship with Spa.latin, which datcd from his 
Erfurt days, must also bc taken into account in this rcgard. 
For Spalatin, who came as tutor and lrea.chcr in 1508 [o 
the Curt of thc Elcetor of Saxony, was very chscly allicd 
in spirit xxith the l[umanists of Erfurt and Gtha. It was 
hc who askcd Lutht'r for his opinion rcspcctig the famous 
dislmle of thc Cologne 1,'acuity with the lImnanist llcuchlin, 
a luarrcl which cnagcd lhc symlathy of schlal'S and 
of lhroughout the h.ngth and bl'cadih 
l,ulhcr, in his reply, which dates frm Jammry or February, 
151 1.. had nt lhat tinge no hesitation in cmphatically taking 
the side of llcuchlin, xvho, hc dt'c]arcd, lOSscsscd his love 
and cstccm. (h:d. hc says, w,uld carry 
spilt [' lht' dclcrmincd qposition of mc thousand times 
lhmsand ('ohgne Imrghcrs, and hc adds mcaningly that 
ihcrc wcrc lmc]l lOre important matters with the Church 
xhich ccdt.d reform ; they wcre " stra.inin at nats and 
swallowing camels. '' The conservative attitude of the 
aulhrilics at ('ologne was at tlmt time not at all to his tastc. 
N,t hm after I,uthcr writes vcrv strongly to Slmlatil, 
again in favour of llcuchlin, against Ortwin de Grtcs of 
('ohgnc, and sa.ys among othcr things that he had hitherto 
thought the 1;fltcr an ass. but that he must noxv call him a 
dg, a wolf and a erocodilc, in spite of his wanting to play 
the li,,l,  expressions which arc quite characteristic of 
],llhtT'S style. 
On the alq)carance of the " Letters of Obscure Men," 
and a similar satirical wrilin which followcd thcm. and 
which also flmnd its way into Luther's hands, the young 
Vittt.nbcrg pl'ofcss, w. instead of takin the licld against 
lhc t'xil tctdt'lcv f lhcsc attacks of the llunmnist lm.rty on 
the " Ifigtts of Seholasticisln aml the cloister " as sut'h 
diatrilws deserved, and as hc in his charaetcr of lm,nk and 
thcoh,gian should havc done, sought to take a middle 
CollrSC : he a.ll)rox cd of thc lmrposc of thc attacks, but not 
of thc satire itself, which mended lothing and containcd too 
much invcctive. oth productions, hc says, must havc 
come out of the salne pot ; they had as their author, if not 
1 " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 14. of Augus b, 114, " Dricfweehsel," 1, p. 20. 

Luther from the very outset of his career was too liberal 
iu his blame of the customs and conditions in the Church 
which haPl)cncd to meet with his disal)l)roval. 
Scarcely had he finished his course o[ studies as a learner 
than. he ah'eady began to wax eloquent against various 
abuses. In his characteristic love of exaggeration of 
language he did not rear to use the sharpest epithets, nor to 
magnify tile evil, whether in his academic lectures or in the 
lmlpit, or in his letters and writings. IIe wrote, for instance, 
to Spalatiu in 1516 to dissuade the Elector o Saxony, 
Frederick the Wise, from promoting Staupitz to a bishopric : 
he who becomes a bisho 1) in these days falls into the most 
evil of eonq)any, all the wickedness of Greece, Rome and 
Sodom were to be f(,und in tile bishops; Sl)alatin should 
compare the carryings-on of tile present bishq)s with those 
of the bishops of Christian attti(luity ; now a pastor of souls 
was considered quite exeml)lary if he merely lmrsucd his 
worklly business and built u 1) for himself with his riches an 
insatiable hell. t 
In his first lectures at Wittenberg he eoml)lains that 
" neither monasteries nor eo]h'ges, nor Cathedral churches 
will in any swt accept discipline." z The clergy, he says, in 
another 1)lace, gcneralising after the fashion conunon among 

data which reveal with absolute certainty the exi.%ence of great cor- 
ruption in the Church, and, on the other hand, we lose sight of the causes 
which alone offer a satisfactory historical explanation of the great 
spread of the schism. Luther himself--and it was this which decided 
us to abbreviate our survey--before the public dispute commenced, 
was far from possessing, in his quiet cloister, so clear a view of the condi- 
tions of the time as a learned historian is nov able to obtain. The great 
world of Gernmny and Europe did not, as we know, reveal itself so 
clearly to the Monk and Professor as the little worhl of Wittenberg, 
and his few months of travel did not make him a judge of the world 
mad of men. The dark and bright elements of ecclesiastical and 
popular life were seen by him only superficially and partially. In 
laying more stress on some traits than on others, he allowed himself 
to be influenced less by any weighing of actual facts than by his ardent 
feelings. Certain features of the times appear to have remained quite 
strange to him, notwithsttmding the fact that in more recent de- 
scriptions of the influences at work in him, they are made to play a 
great part: so, for instance, Gallicanism with its anti-monarchical 
conception of the Church, or the philosophy of the ultra-realists. 
With respect to Nominalism, more particulaxly in its Occamistic form, 
and to mysticism, the case is absolutely different. This will, hovever, 
be discussed below (chaps. iv.-v.). 
t On June 8, 1516, " Briefwechsel," 1. p. 41. 
" " Verke," V'eim. ed., 3, p. 444. 

to the Prior and the council, Luther to begin with complains 
vehemently of the evil reports against his person which, accord- 
ing to his information, some of those hc was addressing at Erfurt 
had circulated previously. Nathin's letter had, however, 
the last straw. " Thi. letter," ho says, which was written in lhe 
name of all, angered him so nmch with its lies an(I its provoking, 
poisonous scorn, that " I had almost poured out the vials of my 
wrath and indignation on his head and the whole monastery, as 
Master Paltz did." They had l)robably received the two " amazed 
replies " ; as however the other charges had bceu withdrawn, hc 
would hold the majority of those he was addressing as excused 
they must now, on their part, forget any hurt they had felt at his 
previous replies ; " Lay all that I have done," these are his words, 
" to the account of the furious el)istlc of Master Nathin, for my 
anger was only too well justified. Now, however, I hear still 
worse things of this man, viz. that he accuses me everywhere 
being a dishonourablc 1)erjnrer on account of t.lm oath t.o the 
Faculty which [ am SUpl)oscd to have taken and not kelt." 
goes on to explain that he had been guilty of no such crime, 
for the Biblical lectures at, the commencement of which he uas' 
supposed to have taken the oath, and at hich, it is true, in 
accordance with the customs of the University, such an oath was 
generally taken, had not been begun by him at Erfurt; at his 
opening lecture ou the Sentences in that town he had, so far as hc 
remembers, taken no oath, nor could he recall having ever taken 
any oath in the Faculty at Erfurt. He closes with an expression 
of respect and gratitude to the Erfurt Faculty. Though hc was 
the injured party, he was cahn and contented and joyful, for he 
had deserved nmch worse of God: they too should lay their 
bitterness aside, " as God has clearly xvilled my departure (cx- 
corporatio) from Erfurt, and xve must not withstand God."  This 
letter and Luther's previots steps cannot be regarded as giving 
proof of a harmoniously attuned disposition. He may have been 
in the right in the matter of the oath, a question of which it is 
difficult to judge. It was not, hoxvever, very surprising that the 
Erfm't monks took steps to force Luther to make more satisfactory 
amends to the Faculty than the strange lcttcr of excuse given 
above. It is plain that under pressure of some higher authority 
invoked by them, a second letter, this time of more correct 
character, was despatched by the Wittenberg Doctor. In judging 
of this academic dispute, xve must bear in mind the store that 
vas set iu those days on University traditions. 
The second letter in question, dated December 21, 1514, is 
addressed to the " excellent Fathers and Gentlemen, the Dean 
and other Doctors of the Theological Factdty of Studies at 
Erfurt " and in the very fwst words shows itself to be a humble 
apology and request for pardon. It contains further information 
regarding the affair. I-Ie begs them at least not to deem him guilty 
of a fault committed knoxvingly and out of malice ; if he had done 
anything unseemly, at least it was unintentionally (" extra dolum 
x " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 17. 



1. Sources, Old and New 
THE history of Luthcr's inward dcvch)l)ment during hi 
first years at Wittenberg up to 1517, is. to a. certain extent. 
rathcr ol)scure. The study of deep l)sychdogi('al processes 
must ahvays I)e reckoned nmongst lhc most COml)h.x of 
problems, and in our case the dillieulty is increased I)y the 
nature of Luther's own statcmcnts with regard to hhusclf. 
These bclong without cxccption to his latcr ycars, arc 
uncertain and contradictory in character, and in nearly 
evcry instancc rcprcscnt vicws inllucnccd bv his contro- 
vcrsics and such as hc was wont to advocatc in his ohl age. 
Thanks to morc rcccnt discovcrics, howcvcr, wc arc now 
1)osscsscd of works writtcn 1)y Luthcr in his youth which 
supply us with bcttcr information. By a proper use of thcsc, 
wc arc able to obtaiu a much clcarcr picturc of his dcvclop- 
mcnt than was formcrly possible. 
Many false idcas which werc once currcnt havc now bccn 
dispellcd; more cspccia.lly thcrc can no longer bc any 
qucstion of the customary Protestant view, lmmely, that 
the Monk of Wittcnbcrg was first h'd to his ncw doctrinc 
through somc unusual iuward religious cxl)'ricncc by which 
hc attaincd thc joyful assurancc of salvation by faith alone, 
mid not by means of the good works of Popcry and monas- 
ticism. This so-called imwr expcricncc, which used to be 
placed in the forcfront of his change of opinions, as a 
" Divinc Experience," as shown below, must disappcar 
altogcthcr from history.  Objcction must equally bc taken 
x XVilhehn Braun (" Die Bedeulung der Concupiscenz in Luthers 
Leben und Lehre," Berlin, 1908) commences chapter ii. (" Luther's 
Experience in the Monastery," p. 19) a.s follows: " It is impossible 
to speak in the strict sense of any religious experience which Luther 
had h the monastery. It was no catastrophe which, with elemental 
force, brought about the Refonner's change. Any dramatic element 


the Church has not yet become clear, but the fact remains and 
will make itself apparent in time. If we ask why they insist upon 
isolation, they reply: On account of the protection of the 
cloistral discipline. But that is the light of an angel of Satan." 1 
The following attack on the Obscrvantines in the lectures 
on the Psalms is on the sane lines : There are plenty of " men 
proud of their holiness and observance, hypocrites and false 
brothers." - " But the fate of a Divine condemnation " will fall 
upon " all the proud and stiff-necked, all the snpcrstitious, re- 
bellious, disobedient, also, as I fear, on our Observantines, who 
under a show of strict discipline are only loading thcnsclves with 
insubordination and rebellion." 3 
The Observantines were plainly in his opinion demonstrating 
their unruliness by seeking to stand by the old foundation 
principles of the Congregation. He is angered by their exemption 
from the General and their isolation from the other German 
Augustinians, and still less does he like their severities ; they ought 
to fall into line with the Conventuals and join them. "Ve know 
nothing further of the matter nor anything of the rights of the 
case; it may be noted, however, that the after history of the 
party with which Luther sided and the eventual dissolution of 
the Congregation, appear rather to justify the Obscrvantines. 
On the occasion of a convention of the Order at Gotha in 1515 
--at which the Conventuals must have had a decided najority, 
seeing that Luther was chosen as Rural Vicar--he delivered, on 
May l, the strange address on slander, which has been preserved. 
He represents this fault as prevalent amongst the opposite party 
and lashes in unmeasured terms those in the Order " who wish 
to appear holy," " who see no fault in themselves," but who 
unearth the hidden sins and faults of others, and hinder them in 
doing good and " in teaching." Thus the estrangement had 
proceeded very far. Perhaps, even allowing for Luther's ex- 
aggeration, the other side nay have had its weaknesses, and been 
guilty of precipitancy and sins of the tongue, though it is unlikely 
that the faults were all on one side. It is noticeable, however, that 
Luther's discourse is not directed against calumniators who 
invent and disseminate untruths against their opponents, but 
only against those xvho bring to light the real faults of their 
brethren. Scattered through the Latin text of the sermon are 
highly opprobrious epithets in German. The preacher, for their 
want of charity, calls his opponents " poisonous serpents, traitors, 
vagabonds, murderers, t3a'ants, devils, and all that is evil, desperate, 
incredulous, envious, and haters." He speaks in detail of their 
devil's tilth and of the human excrement xx hich they busy them- 
selves in sorting, anxious to discover the faults of their adver- 

 '" Werke," Weim. ed., 3, p. 155. 
 Ibid., 4, p. 312. Note " boitas fidei "( =Christian righteousness), 
" veritas fidei "(  Christian truth), " itst itice fidei stbsta,t ia "( -- essence 
of Christian righteousness). 
 Ibid., 4, p. 122. 


a lost, lump " ;1 " whoever is without God sins necessarily, i.e. 
he is iu Sill " ;e " uucouquerable " or " necessary " are terlns he 
is fond of applying to eoneul)iseenee in his discourses, a From 
other passages it would allnost appear as if, even then, he 
admitted the persistence of originM sin, even after baptisnl ; for 
instance, he says that the whole world is " in peccrtis original- 
ibus," though unaware of it., and lnust therefore cry " mea 
cdpa"; our righteousness is nothing btt sin ;a understauding, 
will, and memory, even in the bal)tised, are all fallen, and, like 
the wounded Jew, await the coming of the Samaritan.  He also 
speaks of the ilnputatiol of righteousness by God who, instead 
of attributiug to us our SillS, " ilnputes [the lnerits of Christ] unto 
OUr rlghteouslleSS. 

Still, taken in their context, none of these passages furnish 
any decisive proof of a deviation from the Church's faith. 
They forebode, indeed, I,uthcr's later errors, but contain 
ts yet no explicit denial of ('ath,lie doctrine. In this we 
llUst sul)seril)e to Denillc's view, and a.dmit that llO teaching 
actually heretical is found in the Commentary on the 
Psahns. 8 

With refereuce to man's natural powers, that cardinal point of 
Luther's later tcaclling, neither the ability to be good and plcasiug 
to God, nor the freedom of choosing what is right and good iu 
spite of concupiscence, is denied.  Concupiscence, as he fre- 

i Wcim. ed., p. 343 : " o.mnes samas massa perditionis ct debitorc8 
torli8 cctcrnce." 
"- Ibid., p. 354.  Cp. ibid., 4, p. 207. a Ibid., p. 497. 
 Ibid., p. 383.  Ibid., p. 211. 
 Ibid., 3, p. 171: " Quod ex .n.ullis operibus peccata rcmitturtur, 
scd sola .miscricordia Dci on, imputontis." Cp. p. 175. 
s Cp. on Concupiscence, in the Commentary on the Psalms, Denifle, 1 
p. 441 f. and pp. 453, 476. A. Hunzinger, "Lutherstudien," 1 ; "Luthers 
Neuplatonismus in den Psalmvorlesungen," Leipzig, 1906, Preface: 
" Denifle's ' Luther ' is correct ; Luther during the first years of his 
literary act.ivit.y stood on Catholic ground; nor is it by any means 
the ease that from the beginning the reforming element was contained 
in germ in Luther's theology." On the other hand, the element,s 
which were to lead him to take the step from the obscre theology 
of the Commentary on the Psahns to the heretical theology of 1515-16 
--viz. his false mysticism and misapprehension of the Epistle to 
the Ilomans--were already present. The most suspicious passage in 
the Commentary on the Psalms is 4, p. 227, which points to the 
tinuance of his doubts regarding predestination ; he says that Christ 
had drunk of the chalice of suffering for the elect, but not for all. See 
the next note, especially tlre first quotation. 
 Veim. ed., 4, p. 295: "' Aima mea est in potestate mea et in 
libertette arbitrii possum eom perdere vel salvare eligendo vel reprobando 
legem tuom." Concupiscence has not yet become original sin itself, 
but is still a mere relic of the same (3, pp. 215, 453). K/Sstlin, in 
"" Luthers Theologic," 1-, p. 66, quotes other passages from the Corn- 


from the camp of Luther's opponents, but some passages 
from his early scrmc)ns will show the t(mc which frc(lucntly 
prevails in them. 
Already in the ('hristmas sermons of 1515 Luther does not 
scruple to l)lacc himself, as it were, on the same footing with 
the prol)hcts, wise men and those learned in the Scril)turcs, 
whose persecution Christ foretold, more particularly among 
the last of tim three groups. Even then his view was 

" There are some," he says, " who by the study of Holy 
Scripture form themselves into teachers and who are taught 
neither by men nor directly by God alone." These are the 
learned in t.hc Script.ures. " They exercise tlmmsclves in the 
knowledge of the truth by meditation and research. Thus they 
become able to interi)ret the Bible and to write for the instruction 
of others." But such men are l)ersecuted, he continues, and, as 
the Lord prophesied of the 1)rol)hets and wise men and scribes 
that they wouhl not bc received, but attacked, so is it also with 
me. They murmur against my teaching, as I am aware, and 
oppose it. They reproach me with being in error because "I 
preach always of Christ as the hen under whose wings all who 
wish to be righteou. must gather." Thus his ideas with regard to 
righteousness must have been looked upon as importunate or 
exaggerated, and, by some, in all probability, as erroneous. He 
immediately launches out into an apoh)gy : " What I have said 
is this : Ve are not saved by all our righteousness, but it is the 
wings of the hen which protect us against the birds of prey, i.e. 
against the devil . . . but, as it was with the Jews, who 
persecuted rightoou.ncss, so it is to-day. My adversaries do not 
know what righteousness is, they call their own fancies grace. 
They become birds of prey and pounce ui)on the chicks who hope 
for salvation through the mercy of our hen."  

Such rude treatment meted out to those who found 
fault with him (aud one naturally thinks of clergy and 
religious, perhaps cvcn of his very brethren, as the culprits), 
the dcnouucing them from the lmlpit as " birds of prey," 
mad his claim to lay down the law, this, and similar passages 
in the sermons, throw a strong light on his disputatious 

x ,, Werke," Weim. ed., 1, p. 30 f.: " Semper prcedico de Christo, 
gallina nostra . . . et ecitur mihi errans et falsum." :He preached, 
namely, against those " qui ab alis [Domii] recedunt in sua propria 
bona opera.., et nolunt audire, quod itstitiaz eorum pcccata sint. 
Gratiam maxime 4mpugnat. qui earn iacta.nt." The expression " galli,a 
nostra " appears also in the Commentary on the Psahns (" Verke," 
Veim. ed., 3, p. 71). 

In a well-ordered condition of things the Superiors of the 
Augustinians or the diocesan authorities would have inter- 
vened to put a stop to sermons so scandalously offensive ; at 
Wittenberg, however, the evil was left unchecked and 
allowed to take deeper root. The students, the younger 
monks and some of the burghers, hind and en- 
thusiastic folh)wcrs of the bohl preacher. Staupitz was 
altogether on his side, and. owing to him, also the Elector of 
Saxony. The Prince was, however, so little of an authority 
on matters thcoh,gieal that Luther once writes of him that 
he was " in things eolmernin God and the salvatim of the 
soul a.hnost seven times blind. '' 
Luther's notes on his Sunday scrlnons during lhe summer 
of 151.6a time vh(.n he had already expressed his errors 
quite plainly in his lectures on the Epistle to the Ronmns 
afford us a glimpse of an acute controversy. At this time 
his sermons dealt with the first Colnmandment. 

The Gospel for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost with the words : 
" Beware of false lwophcts " gives him an all too tempting oppor- 
tunity for a brush with his adversaries, and, on July 6, he attacks 
them from the standpoint of his nev ideas on righteousness. 
" Much fasting, and long prayers," he cries, " study, preaching, 
xvatching, and poor clothing, these are the pious lambskins under 
which ravening wolves hide themselves." In their case these are 
only " works done for shov." These Observantines, for all their 
great outward display of holiness, are " heretics and schismatics." 
Thus does he storm, evidently applying his words to his brother 
monks of the Observantine party, who probably had been among 
the first to eriticise him. The following remar -ks on rebellion and 
defamation make this apldieation all the clearer.  " The true 
works by which we may reeognise the lwophets are done in the 
inner and hidden man. But these proud men are wanting above 
all in patience and the charity which is forgetflfl of self, but 
concerned for others." " Wheu they have to do works which are 
not. to their liking they are slow, rebellious, obstinate, but. they 
well know how to take away the name of others and to pass 
judgment on them .... There is no greater plague in the Church 
to-day than these men with the words: 'Good works are 
necessary' in t.heir mouths; men who refuse to distinguish 
between what is good and evil because they are enemies of the 
Cross, i.e. of the good things of Clod." a 
Such a dm'ing challenge on Luther's part did not fail in its 

 To Spalatin, June 8, 1516, " Briefweehsel," 1, p. 40. 
 Cp. his reproaches against members of his own Order with regard 
to disobedience and want of charity, which will be given shortly. 
 " Werke," Veim. ed., 1, p. 61. 

I. --(; 


lifelong dislike of Scholasticism vas his very partialacquaint- 
ante with the same. lie had, as wc sha.ll see, never studied 
its great, representatives in the tlfirt.ccnth century; hc had 
made acquailffance only with its later CXl)Oncnts , viz. the 
Nominalists of Occam's school, who gave the tone to his 
theological instructions and whose teachings were very 
prevalent in the schools in that day. lie speaks repeatedly 
of William of Occam as his teacher. Of Luther's relations 
to his doctrines we shall have to speak later: some of 
Occam's views he opposed, others, which happened to be at 
variance with those of St. Thonms of Aquin, hc alprovcd. 
lie would not have attributed to the latter and to other 
exponents of the better school of Scholastic|sin such foolish 
theses a.s he didthcscs of which they never even drca.lut 
had hc possessed any clear notion of their teaching. There 
can be no doubt that he also imbibed during his first years 
as a student at. Erfurt, the spirit of alta.golfism against 
Scholasticism which IIulnaldsm with its craving for novelty 
displayed, an anta.golfiSln ba.sed ostensibly on disgust at the 
unelassie form of the former. 
Already during the earliest, period of his career at. 
berg, as soon, indeed, as he began to preach and lecture, 
he eomnwneed his attacks against Scholastic|sin. 
lie eonsiders that ;'istotle, on whom in the Middle Ages both 
theologiaus and philosophers haxl set such store, had been grossly 
misunderstood by most of the scholastics ; all the good there is 
in Aristotle, he says, he has stolen from others ; whatever in him 
is right., others must understand and make use of than ho 
He often passes judgment on the theology of the Middle Ages 
from the point of view of the narrow, one-sided school of Oceam, 
and then, with his lively imagination, he gn'oss!y exaggerates the 
opposit,ion between it and St. Thomas of Aquin and the more 
classic sehoohnen. The whole herd of theologians, he says, has 
been led astray by Aristotle ; nor have they understood him in 
the least ; according to him, Thomas of Aqttin--the Doctor whom 
the Church has so greatly honoured and placed ag the head of all 
theologians--did not oxpound a single chapter of .4xistot.le 
aright ; " all tho Thonfists together " have not understood one 
chapter. Aristotle has only led them all to lay too much stress 
upon tho importance and merit of human effort and human works 
o the disadvantage of God's grace. Here lay Aa'istot, le's chief 
crime discovered by Luther, t.hanks o his own new theology.'- 
 Cp. K6stlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 118. Extracts from the firs of the 
Christmas sermons of 1515 (or 1514). 
.o K6stliax-Kawerau, 1, p. 128 seq. 


In his le.ctures ou the Psalms Luther already tells his hearers 
that the bold loquacity of theology was due to Aa-istotlc ; he 
makes highly exaggerated remarks regarding the disputes between 
the Scotists and and between Occam and Scotus.: Peter 
Lombm'd, no less than Scotus and St. Thomas, comes in for some 
harsh criticism. But Luther ever reverts to Aa-istottc. lie wishes, 
so he writes to his friend Lang in February, 1516, to tear off 
"the Greek mask which this comedian has assumed to pass him- 
self off in the Church as a philosopher ; his shame should be laid 
bare to all." 3 

Such audacious lauguagc had probably never before been 
used against the greatest minds in the history of human 
thought by a theological professor, vho himself had as yet 
given no proof whatever of his capacity. 
tIis atta.eks on Scholasticism a.nd the 1)hilosopllical and 
theological schools up to that day, were soon employed to 
cover his a.ttaeks on dogma and the laws of the Church. 
In 151g he places Scholasticism and Canou Law on the same 
footing, both needing reform, a 
The learned Martin Pollich, who was teaching law at the 
University of Wittenberg, looked at the young assailaut 
with forebodings as to the future, tie frequently said that 
this monk would overthrow the teaching which yet prevailed 
at all the universities. " This brother has deep-set eyes," 
he once relnarkcd, " he must have strange fancies."  tIis 
strange eyes, with their pensive glcaln, ever ready to smile 
on a friend, and, in fact, his whole presence, made a.n ill- 
pression upon all who were brought into close contact with 
hilu. It is an undoubted fact, true even of his later days, . 
that intercourse with him was pleasant, especially to those 
whom he honoured with his friendship or whom he wished 
to influence. Not only were his pupils at Wittenberg 
devoted admirers of the brave critic of the Schoolmen, but, 
little by little, he also gained an unquestioned authority 
 1,26stlin-I,2awerau, 1, p. 129. 
 Seidemann, " Luthers Vorlestmgen fiber die PsMmen," 1, p. 211 ; 
" Wcrke," Weim. ed., 3, p. 319. 
3 To Joh. Lang, Prior at Erfurt, February 8, 1517. " Briefweehsel," 
1, p. 86 : " Nihil ira ardet animus, quam histrionem illum, qui tam vere 
Grceca larva ecclesiam lusit, multis vevelare ignominiamque eius cunctis 
ostendere." De Wette has the letter incorrectly dated February 8, 1516. 
a Letter to Trutfetter, May 9, 1518, " Briefvechsel," 1, p. 187. 
 " Corpus Reform.," 3, p. 154, n. 83. O. Waltz erroneously ques- 
tions this statement in " Zeitschr. f. Kirchengesch.," 2, 1878, p. 628. 
Cp. 3, 1879, 305. 


edition to Spalatin (December 14, 1516), he wrote, that Tauler 
offered a solid thet,logy xvhich was quite similar to the old ; that 
he was acquainted with no theology more holesome and evan- 
gelical. Spalatin shoukl saturate himself with Tauler's sermons ; 
" taste and see how sweet the Lord is, after you have first, tasted 
and seen how bitter is everything that is ourselves."  
In addition to the attthors menticmed, the mysticism of 
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and of (lerm'd Groot, the 
founder of the Comnunity of the Brethren of the Common Life, 
were known to him. That he was, or had been, fond of reading 
the writings of St. Bernard, we may guess from his many--often 
misunderstoodquotations from the same. 
Luther was also well able, whilst under the influence of that 
inwm'dness which he loved so much in the mystics, to make his 
own their truly devotional and often mox ing hmguage. 
In a friendly letter he comforts, as follows, an Augustinian at 
Erfm't, (leorg Leiffer, regarding his spiritual troubles: " The 
Cross of Christ is diMributed throughout tim hole world and 
each one gets a small piece of it. Do not throw yonrs away, but 
lay it, like a sacred relic, in a goldeu shrine, i.e. in a heart filled 
with gentle charity. For even the wrongs which we snffer from 
men, 1,ersecut.ions, passion and hatred, which caused us 
either by the wicked or by those who mean well, are priceless 
relies, which have not indeed, like the wood of the cross, been 
hallowed by contact with our Lord's body, but which have 
been blessed by His most loving heart, encompassed by His 
friendly, Divine Yill, Mssed and sanctified. The curse becomes a 
blessing, insult becomes righteousness, suffering becomes an 
aureole, and the cross a joy. Farewell, sweet father and brother, 
and pray for me." 

5. Excerpts from the Earliest Letters 
The above letter of Luther's is one of the few remaining 
which belong to that transition pericd in his life. ]Its letters 
arc naturally not devoid of traces of the theological change 
which was going forward withiu him, and they may there- 
fore be considered among the precursors of his future 
]Its new theological standpoint is already apparent in 
the charitable and sympathetic letter of encouragement 
which, as Pmral Vicar, he sent to one of his brother monks 
about that time. " Learn, my sweet brother," hc writes 
to George Spenlein, an Augustinian of the monastery of 
]Icmmingcn, " learn Christ and IIiln Crucified, learn to 
sing to IIim, and, despairing of your own self, say to 
lIiln : Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am 
 " Correspondence," 1, p. 75. 

Thy sin ; Thou hast aeeel)tcd what I am and givcn me what 
Thou art; Thou hast thus become what Thou wast not, 
and what I vas not I have received.. . . Never dc'sre," 
hc cxhorts him, " a l)urity so great as to make you ccasc 
thinking yoursdf, mty bcing, a simcr; for Christ dwells 
only in sinncrs; lIc came down h-ore hcavcn whcrc 
dwclls in the righteous in ordcr to live also in simmrs. If 
you ponder Ul>On lIis lovc, then you will become conscious 
of I-[is most swcct consolation. What wcrc thc usc of tIis 
dcath had wc to attain to pcacc of conscience by our own 
trouble and labour ? Thcrcforc only in lIim will you find 
l)cacc through a trustful despair of yourself and your 
VoI'kS.   1 
A similar mystical tonc (wc arc not hcrc concerned with 
thc thc()logy it iml>licd ) shows itself also hcrc and thcrc in 
Luthcr's later corrcsl)ondcncc. Thc lifc of pul)lic contro- 
versy in which hc was soon to engage was certainly not 
conducivc to thc peaccful, mystical tone of thought and 
to the cultivation of thc intcrior spirit; as might havc 
bccn cxpcctcd, thc rcsult of the strugglc was to cast his 
fccling and his modc of thought in a very diffcrcnt lnould. 
It was impossiblc for him to bccomc the mystic some 
peol)lc havc madc him out to be owing to thc distractions 
and cxcitemcnt of his lifc of struggle.  
In thc abovc letter to Spcnlcin, Luthcr spcaks of this 
monk's rclations to his brcthrcn. Sl)cnlcin had prcviously 
bccn in thc monastcry at Wittcnbcrg, whcrc Luther had 
known him as a zcalous monk, much troublcd about thc 
details of the Rulc, and who evcn found it. difficult to have 
to livc with monks who werc lcss cxact in thcir obscrvancc. 
" Whcn you wcrc with us," says thc writer, " you were 
under thc impression, or rather in thc error in which I also 
was at one timc held cal>tivc, and of which I havc not evcn 
now complctcly rid myself (' Ioldum expugnavi'), that it 
is ncccssary to perform good works until onc is confident 

1 Letter of April 8, 1516, " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 29. (De Vette 
dates it April 7.) 
 " Luther never became by his diligent study of Tauler a mystic 
in the strict sense of the word. He makes his own merely the language 
of mysticism. He often uses the same expressions as Tauler, but with 
another meaning, indeed he even unconsciously imputes to Tauler 
his own views," H. B6hmer, " Luther im Lichte der neuercn For- 
schung," Leipzig, 1906, p. 35 (omitted in the 2nd edition, 1910). 


impudent, and called the author a clowll. 1 A similar work 
by the amc grou 1) of IIunm.nits against the " Thcolo- 
asrcrs, entitled " Tetwr supplicationis Pasquilli(mcc " 
as hc informs Spa.latin, himself a Ih,manisthc had held 
u 1) to the ridicule of his colleagues, as it richly descrvcd 
account of the iavcctivc and slanders which it contained.  

He appealed to Spalatin to draxv the attention of Erasmus to 
his misapprehension of righteousness as it appears in the Epistle 
to the Romans ; he says that Erasmus overrates the virtues of 
heathen heroes, xvhereas even the most blameless of men, even 
Fabricius and Regulus, xvere miles axvay from righteousness; 
outside of faith in Christ there is, according to hi,n, no righteous- 
heSS whatever; 2n'istotle, whom everybody follows, likewise 
knew nothing of this righteousness; but Paul and Augustine 
teach it; what Paul calls self-righteousness is not merely, as 
Erasmus says, a righteousness founded on the observances of the 
Mosaic Laxv, but any righteousness whatever which springs out 
of works, or out of the observance of any laxv ; Paul also teaches 
original sin in the fifth chal)ter of the Epistle to the Romans, a 
fact which Erasmus wrongly denies. With regard to Augustine, 
he could unfold to him (Erasmus) St.. Paul's meaning better than 
he thinks, 10ut he should diligently read the writings against the 
Pelagians, above all the De Spiritu et littera. Augustine there 
takes a firm stand on the foundation of the earlier lq'athers 
(Luther's quotations from his authorities shoxv hoxv much 
the study had fascinated him). But after Augstine's day, 
dead lit.eralism became the general rule. Lyra's Bible Com- 
mentary, for instance, is full of it; the right interpretation of 
Holy Scripture is also xvanting in Faber Stapulensis, notwith- 
standing his ninny excellencies. Hence, he writes, xve nmst fall 
back on Augustine, on Augustine rather than on Jerome to whom 
Erasmus gives the preference in Bible matters, for Jerone keeps 
too much to the historical side; he reconmends Augustine not 
merely because he is an Augustinian monk, for formerly he him- 
self did not think him xvorthy of consideration until he " fell in " 
(incidissem) with his books, a 
Augustine's " On the Spirit and the Letter," a work dedicated 
to Marcellinus, and dating from the end of 412, with which 
Luther had become acquainted in 1515, had a lasting influence on 
him. In this book the great Doctor of the Church strikes at the 
very root of Pelagianism and shows the necessity, for the 
accomplishment of supernatural good works ("facere et perficere 

x To Spalatin, about October 5, 1516, " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 62. 
a To Spalatin, October 19, 1516, '" Briefwechsel," 1, p. 63. Spalatin 
took his advice, as his letter to Erasmus (" Opp. Erasmi," ed. Lugd. 
Bat., 3, col. 1579 sq.) shows. The letter is also prixated in " Brief- 
wechsel," 1, p. 65 

sin which clsuc(1, l>ut which is not sinful so long as there is 
no consent to is enticements. 
As regards the distinction between morta.] and venial 
sin, we find Luther's doctrine has ah-cady reached its later 
staldl)oint , according to which there is no difference between 
them. In the mc way hc already de,tics the merit of good 
works. " It is clear," hc writes, " that according to sub- 
stance and nature venial sin does not exist, and that there 
is no such thing as merit. '' All sins, in his ol)inion, arc 
mortal, because cvcn the smallest contains the deadly 
poison of concupiscence. With regard to merit, according 
to him, cvcn" the saints have no merit of their own, but 
only Christ's merits. ''e Even i their actions the motive 
of l)crfcct love was not sucicntly lively. " If it might bc 
done ulpulishcd and there wcrc no cxl)cctation of rc'ar(l, 
thcll cvcn t]lc good lllall would omit the good and do evil 
like the bad. ''a 
With this pcssilnistie view of Luther's wc conclude our 
prclilnilmry glance at the theological goal to which his 
development had led him. Vc will not at present pursue 
further the theme of pcssimisln which might bc brought out 
more clearly in the light of the doctrine contained in his 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans regarding 
absolute predestination to hell, and resignation to hell as 
the highest act of virtue, a All the new doctrines we have 
passed in review may be regarded as forerunners of the great 
revolution soon to come; we see here in these questions 
of doctrine the utter lack of respect and the boldness which 
the originator of this revolutionary theology will, later on, 
manifest against the Church, when it became clear that, 
without being untrue to herself, she could not approve his 
teaching. Mcaliwhilc the connection of these doctrines 
among thclnsclvcs and with the confing world-historic 
movement calls for further elucidation. We need offer no 
excuse for attempting this in detail in the following pages. 

 Fol. 153. " Sehol. lom.," p. 123 : " Pater quod nullum est 
eccatum vcniale ex substantia et natura sua sed ncc meritam.'" 
 Fol. 153". " Schol. Rom.," p. 124: " Dicis, ut quid ergo merita 
sanctorum adeo prcedicant,ar. Respondeo, quod non sunt eorum merita, 
sed Christi i eis." 
 Fol. 121, 121" ; Denifle-Weiss, 1 -, p. 453 ; " Schol. Rom.," 
p. 73f. 
* On Predestination see below, chapter vi. 2. 


Commentary on the Psahns hc regards them simply as 
heretics, 1 and in his lectures on the Epistle to the Romans 
he once instances the " ha'rests Pighardor,um " as an examl)lc 
of the wilful destruction of what is holy.  Later, however, 
at and after his public apostasy, and cvcn shortly after the 
Leipzig Disl)utation , hc defends some of IIus's doctrines, 
and the result of his perusal of Itus's work, " De ecclesia," 
was to make him more audacious in upholdiag the views 
it contains, a This quite exl)lains the great sympathy with 
which hc afterwards speaks of Hus and his writings in 
general, and the passionate way in which hc blames the 
Catholic Church for having condcnmcd him. I-Ic says in 
1520: " In many parts of the Gcrnmn land there still 
survives the memory of John Itus, and, as it did not fade, 
I also took it up, and discovered that hc was a worthy, 
highly enlightened nmn .... Scc, all yc Papists and 
Romanists," hc cries, " whether you arc able to undo one 
page of John I-Ius with all your writings. '' That book 
of lIus's sermons which he found as a young student of 
theology in the monastery library at Erfurt (p. 25), hc 
declares that hc laid aside because it was by an arch- 
heretic, though he had found nmch good in it, and had been 
horrified that such a man had suffered death as a heretic; 
as hc had at that time convinced himself, ]-Ius interpreted 
Scripture powerfully and in a Christian manner, s Wc also 
know that Luther relates that Staupitz had told him of 
Prolcs, his predecessor, how hc disapproved of Johann 
Zacharia, one of the most capable opponents of I-Ius, and 

 " Werke," Weim. ed., 3, pp. 292, 334. Cp. V. KShler, " Luther 
md die Kirchengesch.," (1900), p. 168 f. 
 " SchoI. Rom.," p. 315. 
a W. KOhler, ibid., p. 225 : " In his acquaintance with the sources 
Luther hardly rises above the average. Eck is superior to him in this 
point, for he deals with the various sources as an expert, which Luther 
never was. Eraser also was not behind Luther . . . that Luther 
became acquainted with I-Ius's ' De Ecclesia ' at an earlier period than 
his friends and adversaries was due to the kindness of the Bohemians, 
not to his own zeal in research, tits friends as well as his adversaries 
made haste to catch up with him again." 
 "Concerning Eck's latest Bulls." "Werke," ErI. ed., 24', p. 28 ; 
Weim. ed., 6, p. 591. Cp. Luther's "Prefaces and epilogues to some 
letters of Hus'" (1536 and 1537), " Werke," Erl. ed., 65, p. 59 ft., and 
" Opp. Lat. vat.," 7, p. 536 seq. 
 " ,Verke," Erl. ed., 65, p. 81. See W. KShler, ibid., p. 167: 
" We may well ask here whether the experience of later years does 
not come in as well." 


counted for anything ; so great was it that he had been taught 
not to thank God for the Sacrament, but that God should thank 
him ; but, notvithstanding all these errors, he had always sought 
after a " nerciful God " and had at last found tIim by coming 
to understand His gospel. 
The birth and growth of this fable in the mind of Luther as 
he advanced in years will occupy us later. The present writer 
may point out, that no convincing answer has been given to the 
objections again.t the legend which he made public even prior 
to the appearance of Denifle's first volume,  aud which were 
repeated therein independently, and at considerably greater 
length. On the Protestant side, too, much more caution is now 
being observed in the use of Lutiler's later descriptions of his own 
development, the tendency being to use contemporary sources 
instead. This is seen, for instance, in the studies by Braun on 
Luther's theory of concupiscence and by tIunzinger on Luther's 
mysticisln, which will be quoted later. 

In explanation of the inner process through which Lnther 
went, the prilnary reason for his turning away from Catholic 
doctrine ]ms bccn attributed by st)mc Catholics to scrupu- 
losity com|)incd with all nnhcalthy self-righteousness, which 
by an inward reaction grew into carelessness and despair. 
I[ow far this view is correct, and how far it requires to be 
snpplcmcntcd by other iml)ortant factors, will be shown 
further on. 
Meanwhile another altogether too SUlnmary theory, a 
theory which overshoots the lnark, must first bc considered. 

2. Whether Evil Concupiscence is Irresistible ? 

Formerly, and even in recent times, many writers on 
the Catholic side have endcarourcd to 1)rove that the 
principal motive for Luther's new opinions lay iu worldli- 
ness, sensuality, and more especially sins of the flesh. In 
order to explain his teaching attclnpts were made to establish 
the closest COlmcction between Luther's views with regard 
to the survival of sin in man without his consent, the 
covering over of man's guilt by the merits of Christ and the 
vorthlcssncss of good works on the one hand, and on the 
other a nature ravaged by sinful habits, such as was attri- 
bntcd to the origilmtor of these doctrines. The principal 
argument in favour of this view was found in the not unusual 

 "Literar. Beilage" to the "KS]n. Volksztg.," No. 44, October 29, 
1903. " Luthers Selbstzeugnisse fiber seine Klosterzeit, eine Luther- 


Ite frequently expresses the truth, taught by faith and 
experience, regarding the eontilmalme of concupiscence 
in man, even in the most perfect, and he does so in terlns 
so strong that hc seems to make eoneul)iseenee invilmible. 
We can also see that he has a livcL" sense of the burden of 
concupiscence, that he cherishes a certain gh(,my distrust 
of God's readiness to come to man's assistance--a distrust 
eomeeted with his temptations on 1)redestinatiol--and 
that he undervalues the helps which the Church offers 
against evil desires. Finally, he sees in the very existence 
of eoneul)iseenee a culpable offence against the Ahnighty, 
and declares that, without grace, nm.n is an unhal)py 
l)risoner, who in consequence of original siu is in the fullest 
sense ineal)able of doing what is good. 
In his Commentary on the Psalms (1512-15-16) he still, 
it is true, upholds the natural freedom of man as opposed 
to his passions. Iu the Commentary ou the Epistle to the 
Pomans (1515-16), and frequently in the sermons of that 
peri(d, he indeed sacrifices this freedom, but even there he 
iusists that the grace of Ged will in the end seeure the victory 
to those who seek aid aud pray humbly, and he also instances 
some of the means which, with the elfieacious assistance 
of God, may help to victory in the religious life. To this 
later staudl)()int of the possibility of resistance with the 
assistance of grace he adhered to his end. Exhortations 
to struggle not only against actual sins, but also against 
the smouldering fire of eoncul)iseenee--whieh must be ex- 
tinguished more and more in the righteous until at length 
death sets him free--occupy nm.ny pages of his writings. 
The jarring notes present in the above teaching do not seem 
to have troubled him at any tilne ; he seeks to conceal them 
and to ])ass them over. Never once does he enter upon a 
real theological diseussi(n of the most difficult point of al!, 
the relation of grace to free will. 
Luther also speaks of our freedom and our responsibility for 
our personal sMvation in his Commentary on the Psalms : " Ny 
soul is ill my own keeping; by the freedom of my will I can 
make it eternally happy or eternally mahappy by choosing cr 
rejecting Thy law." Therefore PsMm exviii. 109 says, " Ny 
soul is Mways iu my hands." mad although I am free to do either, 
yet I have not " forgotten Thy law."  He defends the principle 
x ,, lVerke," lVeim, ed., 4, p. 295. Cp. ibid., 9, p. 112, Luther's 
marginal note on Anselm's " Opuscula," which has the same meaninf 
Denifle-Veiss, 1 -, p. 507, n. 3. 

Romans gives us the iml)ression of being the work of an 
inlmoral man, a fact which should also carry some weight. 
An author who at the first assault had capitulated to his 
evil desires would hardly have been able to conceal his low 
moral standard; he would rather have been tempted to 
join the Elfieureans or the Sceptics, or the mbelicving 
ranks of the IIumanists. Of anything o[ the kind there is no 
trace in the books last mentioned. 
Their characteristic is father--there is no harm in men- 
tioning it nowa certain false sl)iritualism, a mysticism, 
which, especially in the interpretation of the Epistle to 
the Romans, frequently follows quite devious paths. In 
consequence of his unceasing opl)osition to self-righteous- 
ness, of his poor idea of God and of human strength, and 
of his false mystical train of thought, Luther came to dismiss 
human freedom and to set up the power of sin on the throne. 
Aristotle's teaching regarding the ha.rural righteousness 
which arises from goed actions is particularly distasteful 
to Luther, and equally distasteful to the nominalistie 
critic is the doctrine of supernatural righteousness through 
infused sanctifying grace, which he prefers to replace by 
the imputation of the merits of Christ. 

3. The Real Starting-point and the Co-operating Factors 
Tile real origin of Luther's teaching must be sought in 
a fundamcnta! principle which governed him, which was 
fostered by the decline in his life as a religious and a priest, 
and more particularly by his inordinate love of his own 
opinion and by the uncharitable criticisms he passed npon 
others. This was his unfavourable estimate of good works, 
and of any effort, natural or supernatural, on the part of 
This opposition to a principle, common to the Church 
and to monasticism, as to the necessity in which men 
generally and religious in particular stand of performing 
good works if they wish to please God, is the first deviation 
from the right path which we notice in him. IIe called it 
a fight against " holiness by works " and self-righteousness, 
and in this fight he went still further. IIe made his own 
the &.adly error that man by his natural powers is unable 
to do anything but sin. To this he added that the man who, 


vhcre, even in the zeal of the Observantincs for their rule, 
especially when he had already fallen away from the ideals 
of his 1)rofession, from monastic piety and the spirit of the 
1)riesthocd. A boundless self-reliance began to possess him, 
and led him forward regardless of all. This was the " wisdom 
of his own mind " of which he accuses himself in 1516 in a 
letter to a fricnd in the Order, speaking of it as the " founda- 
tion and root" of much mrcst; I)itter]v he exclaims: 
" Oh, how much 1)ain has the evil eye [this sclf-eonecit] 
already caused me, and how much does it eontimm to 
ldague me. ''1 We may take these words more seriously 
than they were probably meant. IIis cotism and pride 
were lla.ttcrcd to such an extent bv his imagination that he 
seemed to find cvcryvhcre confirmation of his own pre- 
conecivcd notions. Ilaving read Ta.ulcr he at once con- 
sidered him as the greatest of writers, because he was able 
to credit him with some or his own sentiments. Then again 
in Augustine, the Doctor of the Church. he found, as he 
imaa'ined, a true reflection of his new doctrine. Devoid of 
the necessary intellectual and moral diseip]iue, he allowed 
himself to be blinded by a fanatic attachment to his oxvn 
Carried awav by his own judgment and regardless of the 
teaching of all the schools, yea, even of the Church herself, 
he passed into the camp of the enemy, pcrhal)s xvithout at 
first, being aware of it ; he came to deny entirely the merit 
of good works as though they were of no importance for our 
salvation as eompa.rcd with the power of faith, an idea. in 
which he fortified himself by his one-sided study of I[oly 
Scripture and by his misinterpretation of the Epistles of 
St. Pmfl, that preacher of the power of fidth and of the 
grace of Christ. I[e was always accustomed to consider 
the Ilible as his special province, and, given his eharaeter, 
it was not difficult for him to identify himself with it, and 
to ascribe to himself the discovery of great Scriptural 
truths till then misunderstood or forgotten; for instance, 
the destruction of nmn's powers by original sin and their 
renewal by faith a.nd grace. The false doctrine of the 
outward imlmtation of the merits of Christ came next. 
The school of Oeeam here prepared the way for him by its 
views on sanctifying grace and " aeeeptatiou" (imputa- 
 To George Leiffer, April 15, 1516, " Briefweehsel," 1, p. 31. 


tion). Luther found in Occam's views o this subject no 
obstacle, but rather a SUl)por. This positive iuflucnce on 
him of Oeeam will be dealt with below (chap. iv. 3), together 
wi[h oher positive effects which decadcu[ Scholasticism 
exercised upon him. Just as it suited his violent character 
to declare in no gentle words the renunciation of personal 
merit of every kind for the imputation of the merits of 
Christ, so tim tendency of his own re]ig'ious life, which had 
become alicna.tcd fr)m the ideals of his Order, encouraged 
him to make the whole moral task consist in a siml)le, 
trustful a])prol)riation of the saving merits of Christ, ia 
confidence, comfort a.nd safety, notwithstanding the dis- 
scntieut inner voices. 
Further, his study of false mysticism (scc below, chap. v.) 
hell)cd to elohc his new ideas in the deceptive dress of 
1)icty. To himself hc sccmcd to bc fulfilling 1)erfcctly the 
1)rcccpts of the mystics to scck everywhere the spirit and 
make small account of outward things: hc imagined that 
Christ wculd bc truly honourcd, and the importaucc of 
Divine grace effectually made manifest, by despair of our 
own works, yea, even of ourself. The power which a 
mysticism gone astray exercised in those early stages Ul)OU 
a mind so full of imagination and feeliug cannot be over- 
The oldest letter wc have of Luther to Staupitz is in itself 
a witness to its writer's self-deception; to his fatherly 
friend he speaks quite openly aud even upl)eals to his 
sermons "on the Love of God" in SUl)port of his own 
errors. Staul)itz had warned him in a friendly mamcr 
that in many places his name stood in very bad repute. 
Luther admits in this letter, written four months after hc 
had affixed the well-known Wittenberg Theses, that his 
doctrine of justification, his sermons on the worthlessness 
of works, and his opposition to (hc theology in vogue in 
the schools had ra.iscd a storm against him. People 
that hc rejected pious practices md all good works. And 
vet he was merely a disciple of Taulcr's theolo-v and, like 
Staupitz, had taught nothing else but that " wc should 
place our confidence in none other than Jesus Christ, not 
in any prayers and merits and good works, because we arc 
saved not by our works, but by God's mercy." If God 
were working in him, so hc concludes enthusiastically, then 


on the Mass (" Sacri canonis missw cxpositio lileralis ac 
myslica") " with a bleeding heart." So hc himself says 
later, when hc also speaks of the work, then widely used, 
as " n excellent book, as I then thought. ''1 From the tone 
of his h.ttcr of invitatim to his first Mass wc can judge of 
Iris state ,)f c(,mm(,ti)n. The c(mfusi()n and trouble vhich he 
experienced at his first Mass, a.nd the fear which seized him 
during the 1)rwcssi(m of the Blessed Sacrament, ]cad us to 
conclude lha.t he was readil  ()vere,)me by vain apprchcl- 
sions combined with physical excitement. Here also belongs 
Luther's later statement concerning the fears which hc 
(and others too) experienced when in the monastery at 
the smallest ritual blunders, as t]mugh they had been 
great sins; such an assertion, though cxag'cratcd and 
untrue, is probably an echo of his own troubled state 
during the liturgical ccrclnonies. 
It is possible that those fears may have bccn the cause 
of his great pessimism with regard to human works. They 
may have contributed to make hiln see sin in what was 
merely the result of fallen nature vith its invohmtary 
concupisccnccs, without any consent of the will. Such fears 
nmy havc pursued him when he began to brood over the 
doctrine of man's powers, original sin and gracc ; we speak 
of his " brooding," for Iris inclinations a.t that time were 
to a melancholy contemplation of things mscen. The 
timidity which he had acquired in the early days of his 
boyhood and at school doubtless had its effect in keeping 
hiln in such moods, apart from his own tcmpcrmncnt. 

On close examination of Luther's theological studies xve 
find that his prcl)aration for the office of professor--so far 
as a knowledge of the positive doctrine of the Church, of 
the Fathers mad of good Seholastieisln is eolmeruedwas 
all too lneagre. 
tie had not at his command the time neeessary for pene- 
tra.ting deeply into dogma or into its presentment by 
earlier exponents. What was said above of his course of 

1 Lauterbach, "Tagebuch," p. 18. Biel's much-esteemed book on 
the Mass was composed principally of discourses to the clergy delivered 
in the cathedral at Mayence by his friend and teacher Egelbg Becker 
of Brunswick. In the title Biel speaks of him as " vita pariter et 
doctrina prcefulgidus." Adolf Franz, " Die Messe im deutschen Mittel- 
alter " (1902), p. 550 ff. 


special help of God is, according to most of them, saving grace 
itself ; actual grace, i.e. the divinely infused intermediary between 
man's natural and supernatural life, finds no place in their 
system. This explains, if we may anticipate a little, how it is 
that Luther pays so little attention to actual grace ;l he has no 
need of it, because man, according to him, cannot keep the law 
at all without the (iml)uted) state of grace. It is unfortunate 
that Biel, in whom Luther trusted, should have misrepresented 
the actual teaching of true Scholasticisn concerning the necessity 
and nature of grace, whether of actual or saving grace. 
As early as 1515 Luther, with the insufficient knowledge lm 
possessed, accused the Scholastics generally of teaching that 
" man by his natural powers is able to love God above all things, 
and substantially to do the works commanded, though not, indeed, 
according to the 'intention ' of the lawgiver, i.e. not in the state 
of grace." " Therefore, according to them," he says, " grace 
was not necessary save by a new imposition demanding more than 
the law (' per no-cam exactionem-ultra legem '); for, as they teach, 
the law is fulfilled by our own strength. TITus grace is not 
necessary to fulfil the lw, save by reason of God's new exaction 
which goes beyond the law. Who will put up with these sacri- 
legious views ? " Assuredly his indignation against Scholasti- 
cism would have been righteous had its teaching really been what 
he imagined. In the same way, and with similarly strong ex- 
pressions, he generalises what he had learnt in his narrow world 
at Erfurt and ,Vittenberg, and ascribes to the whole of Christen- 
dora, to the Popes and all the schools, exactly what the Occmnists 
said of the results of original sin being solely confined to the 
lower powers. Here, and in other connections too, he exclaims : 
"the whole Papacy has taught this, and all the schools of Sophists 
[Scholastics]." "Have they not denied that nature was ruined 
by sin when they assert that they are able to choose what is 
good according to the dictates of right reason ? " 
From his antagonism to such views, an antagonism we find 
already in 1515, when he was preparing for his lectures on the 
Epistle to the Romans, sprang his own gloomy doctrine of the 
death of free will for good, aud the poisoning of human natm-e by 
original sin. Vith its first appearance in the lectures metioned 
we shall deal later. 

1 Denifle, 1, p. 670 f. 
 " Opp. Lt. exeg.," 19, p. 6l seq. Such views have often been 
adopted from Luther by ]?rotestmt theologians nd historians. 
" The worth of Scholasticism," Denifle complains, 1 , p. 845. " i.e. 
the scholastic doctrine as misundcrstood nd misrepresented by them, 
is judged of by them according to Luther's erroneous views which they 
receive as axioms, first principles and unalterable truths." In the 
second edition A. Weiss has struck out this sentence. Denifle, 1 , 
p. 840, complains with reason that Biel is accepted s a reliable repre- 
sentative of Scholasticism. Cp. p. 552, n. 1, fter showing his in- 
accuracy in one passage : " The reder my jtdge for himself what 
a false impression of St. Thomas's teaching would be gained from 


cism. What he failed to distinguish, St. Thomas, Thomisna, and 
all true cholatics distinguished with very great clearness. 
Aquinas draws a sharp line of demarcation between the civil 
virtue of righteousness and the so-called infused righteousness 
of the aot of justification. He anticipates, so to speak, Luther's 
objection and his confusion of one idea with another, and teaches 
that by the repeated performance of exterior works an inward 
habit is without doubt foi'ned in consequence of which mn is 
better disposed o act rightly, as ' teaches in his "Ethics"; 
" but," he says, " bis only holds good of human righteousness, 
by which man is disposed to what is humanly good (' iustitia 
humana ad bonam humanum '); by human works the habit of 
such righteousness can be acquired. But the righteousness 
which counts in he eyes of God (i.e. supernatm'al righteousness) 
is ordained o the Divine good, namely, to future glory, which 
exceeds human strength (' iustitia qu habet fflo'iam apad Deum ; 
ordinata ad bonum divinum') . . . wherefore man's works are 
of no value for producing the habi of this righteousness, bu 
he hem' of man must th's of all be inwardly justified by God, 
so that he may do he works which are of worth for eernal 
glory." z 
8o speaks he mos eminen of the Schoohnen in the name of 
the rue beology of he Middle Ages. 
For Luther, who 10rings forward he above arbitrary objection 
in his Comnmnary on Romans, i would have been very easy 
have made use of he explanation jtmt given, for i is fotmd in 
St. Thomas's Commentary on his very Epistle. Luther, one 
would have hought, would certainly have consulted his work 
for his inrpretaion of he Epistle, were it only on account 
its historical ineres, and even if i had no been he best work 
on he subjec which had so far appeared. Bu no, i seems 
he never looked into his Commentary, nor even into the older 
glosses of Per Lombard on the Epistle o he Romans, hen 
much in use; in the latter he would at once have found the 
refutation of he charge he brough agains he Scholastics 
advocating the doctrine of 'istotle on righteousness by works, 
as he gloss o he classic passage (Romans iii. 27) runs as 
follows : " For righeoness is no by worl (' no ex operibus 
est iustitia '), but vorks are he resul of righteousness, and there- 
fore xve do not say : ' he righteousness of works, bu the xvorks 
of righteousness.' "= 

He does not even trouble to uphold the frivolous accusation 
that the Schoohnen had been acquainted only with Aristotelian 
righteousness, but actually refutes it by another objection. He 
finds fault vith the " scholastic theologians " for having, as he 

 S. Thorn., " in Ep. ad Romanos," lect. 1 (on Rom. iv. 2). 
 In Rom. iii. 27: " No ex operibus est iustitia, sed ipsa 
satyr ex iustitia (see in this connection Luther's statement, p. 43) 
ideoqtte not iustitiatt operum sed opera iustitice dicimus." Cp. Denifle- 
Weiss, 1 z, pp. 528-30. 

once infers that it declared infused grace to be superfluous, 1 
and fm'ther, when, for instance, he asserted that tile axiom 
quoted above, and peculiarly beloved of the Occalnists, " Facienti 
quod est in se Deus non denegat gratiam," was erroneous, as 
though it placed a " wall of iron " between lnan and the grace of 
God.  No Occamist understood the axiom in the way he wishes 
to make out. 

Luthcr went so far in his gainsaying of the Occamist of the almost uniml)aircd ability of man for purely 
natural good, that hc arrived at the ol)positc 1)olc and 
began to maintain that there was no such thing as vitally 
good acts on man's part ; that nmn as man does not act in 
doing what is good, but that grace alonc does everything. 
The oldest statements of this sort arc reserved for the 
quotations to bc given below from his Commentary on 
Romans. We give, however, a few of his later utterances 
to this effect. They 1)rove that the crass denial of man's 
doing anything good continued to charactcrise him in later 
life as much as earlier. 

In tile Gospel-hoinilies contained in his "Postils," he teaches 
the people that it was a " shameful doctrine of the Popes, 
universities, and monasteries " to say " we ought by the strength 
of our free will to begin [exclusive of God's help ?] by seeking 
God, coining to Him, running after Him and earning His grace." 
" Beware, beware," he cries, " of this poison; it is the merest 
devil's doctrine by which the whole world is led astray .... 
You ask : How then nmst we begin to become pious, and what 
must we do that God may begin in us ? Reply: What, don't 
you hear that in you there is no doing, no beginning to he pious, 
as little as there is any continuing and ending ? God only is the 
begimfing, furthering and ending. All that you begin is sin and 
remains sin, let it look as pretty as it will ; you can do nothing 
but sin, do how you will . . . you nmst remain in sin, do what 
you will, and all is sin whatever you do alone of your free 
will; for if you were able of your own free will not to sin, 
or to do what is pleasing to God; of what use would Christ be 
to you ? " 
Elsewhere, on account of the supposed inability of man, he 
teaches a sort of Quietism : " Is anyone to become converted, 
pious and a Christian, we don't set about it; no praying, no 
fasting assists it; it nmst conm from heaven and from grace 
alone .... Whoever wants to become pious, let him not say: 
' I will set about doing good works in order to obtain grace,' but, 

 Cp. in Gal. 1, p. 188 scq. 
u " SYerke," SVeim. ed., l, p. 272. 
a Erl. cd., l0 , p. ll. 


3. Positive Influence of Occamism 
We have so far been considering the preeipitatc and 
excessive antagonism shown a an early date by Luther 
towards the school of Occam, especially towards its 
anthropological doctrines ; vc have also noted its inllucnce 
on his new heretical principles, particularly on his denial 
of man's natural ability for good. Nov we must turn our 
attention to the positive inllucnee of the Oeeamist teaching 
npon his new line of thought, for Luther's errors are to be 
ascribed not only to the negative, but also to the positive 
effects of his school. 
lIis principal dognm, that of justilication, must first be 
taken into consideration. 
This he drew up entirely on the lines of a scheme handed 
down to him by his school. It is no uneonmmn thing to 
see even the most independent and active minds tearing 
themselves away from a traditional train of thought in one 
particular, and yet continuing in another to pursue the 
aeeustomed course, so great is the l)owcr which a custom 
acquired at school possesses over the intellect. The simi- 
larity existing between Luther's and Oceam's doctrine of 
the iml)utation of righteousness isquite remarkable. Oeeam 
had held it., at least as possible, that a righteousness existed 
which was merely imputed ; at any rate, it was only beeause 
God so willed it that sanctifying grace was necessary in the 
present order of things. IIe and his school had, as a matter 
of fact, no dear perception of the SUl)crnatural habit as a 
supernatural principle of life in the soul. According to the 
Oeeamist Peter d'Ailly, whom Luther repeatedly quotes 
in his notes on Peter Lombard, reasou cannot be convinced 
of the necessity of the SUl)ernatural habit; all that this is 
supposed to do can be done equally well bv a naturally 
acquired habit; an unworthy man might be found worthy 
of eternal life without any actual change taking l)laee in 
him ; only owing to an acceptation on God's part (" a sola 
diviza acceptatioze") does the soul become worthy of 
eternal life, not on account of any created cause (therefore 
not on aeeount of love and grace).  " The whole work of 
 Cp. the passages from Oeeam, d'Ailly and Biel h Denifle-Veiss, 
1 =, p. 591 ft. To the texts there quot.ed from Oeeam must be added 
those from 3 Sent., q. 8, A., where, " de ecessitate habituum super- 
aturalium," he establishes three conclusions: I. Their necessity 


factor, not, however, the faith which is animated by charity, 
and this because, with thc Occamists, hc rejects all super- 
natural habits. /-Ic extols the value of faith on every occasion 
at the expense of the other virtues, x 
The positive influcncc of Occam on Luther is also to be 
traced iu thc domain of faith and knowledge. Luther 
imagines hc is fortifying faith by laying stress (n its SUpl)osed 
Ol)l)(sition to reason, a tendency which is manifest already 
in his Commcatary on Romans. In this Occam and his 
scho(l wcrc his models. 

The saying that there is much in faith which is " plainly 
against reason and the contrary of xvhich is established by faith "'- 
comes from d'Ail]y. Occam found the arguments for the exist- 
ence of one God inadequate.  Biel has not so much to say 
against these proofs, but he does hold that the fact that one only 
God exists is a nmtter of faith not capable of being absolutely 
proved by reason, a 
Occam, whom Biel praises as "multm clarus et latus," made 
fai,h to know almost everything, but the results achieved by 
reason to be few and unreliable.  He employed the function of 
reason, of a caustic reason to boot, in order to raise doubts, or 
to exercise the mind at the expense of the truths of revelation ; 
yet in the positive recognition of articles of faith he allowed 
reason to recede into the background. In any case he prepared 
the way for the saying, that a thing lnay be false in theology 
and yet true in philosophy, and vice versa, a proposition con- 
demned at the 5th Lateran Council by the Constitution A,postolici 
Regiminis of Leo X.  
Luther came to state clearly that " it was quite false to say 
the same thing was true in philosophy and also in theology"; 
whoever taught this was fettering the articles of faith " as 
prisoners to the judgment of reason. '' We shall have to speak 
later of ninny examples of the violent and hateful language with 
which he disparages reason in favour of faith. His love for the 
Bible at an early period strengthened in him the idea--one which 
the Occmnists often advanced in the course of the dialectic 
criticism to which they subjected the truths of religion--that 
after all, the decisions of faith are not the same as those of the 

 Denifle-Veiss, ibid., p. 606. 
o, In 2 Sent. in princ. : " 3lulta, qce apparent manifeste contra 
ationem, et qorum opposita sut cosona fidei." 
s Qtmdlib. I, q. 1 : " Non potest demonstrative probari, quod tantum 
u8 est et8." 
a 1 Sent., dist. 2, q. 10, concl. 3, F. 
 Denifle-Weiss, 1 , p. 608. 
 Raynald., "Annal.," a. 1513, n. 92 sq.; Mansi, "Coll. conc.," 
32 p. 842 seq. 
 Drews, " Disputationen Luihers," p_ 487, No. 4-6, from the 
Disputation on January 1 I, 1539. 


Staupitz spoke from feeling and not from a clear perception 
of facts when, in his admiration, hc praised Luther as 
exalting Christ and IIis grace. IIc applauded Luther, as 
the latter says "at the outset of his career": " This 
pleases mc in your teaching, that it gives honour and all to 
God alone and nothing to man. Wc cannot ascribe to God 
sufficient honour and goodness, etc. ''1 Staul)itz sought for 
enlightenment in a certain mysticism akin to Quictism, 
instead of in real Scholasticism. On such mystic by-xvays 
Luther was sure to fall in with him, and, as a matter of fact, 
from the point of view of a false mysticism, Luther was to 
denounce " rationalising wisdom " and to speak in favour 
of religious feeling cvcn more strongly than hc had done 
Under the influence of both these elements, a quictistic 
mysticism and an antagonisni to reason in matters of faith, 
his scorn for all natural works grew. This made it caster 
for him to regard the mtural <)rdcr of human powers as 
having bccn completely upset by original sin. More and 
more hc comes to rccognisc only an al>pcarance of natural 
virtues; to consider them as the poisonous bl<)ssoms of 
that unconquerable selfishness which lies ever on the watch 
in the heart of man, md is only to be gradually tamed by 
the justifying grace of God. The denial of all freedom, 
under the ban of sin, little by little becomes for him the 
principal thing, the " summa eausa," which, as he says in 
so many words, he has to defend. - Beside the debasement 
of reason and [he false fancies of his mysticism, stood as a 
worthy companion the religion of the enslaved will; this 
we find present in his mind from the beginning, and at a 
later period it obtained a lasting monument in the work 
" De servo arbilrio," which Luther regarded as the climax 
of his theology.  
But there arc other connecting-links between Oceamism 
and the errors of the young Monk. 
a So Luther relates, In Gal. 2, p. 103. 
 " Totius summce christianarum return." So the Weim. ed., 18. 
p. 614. " Opp. Lat. vat.," 7. p. 132, in " De servo arbitrio." 
a This is the work which Albert Ritsehl, the vell-lmoa Protestant 
theologian, summed up as follows on account of the contradictions 
which i contained: " Luther's work. 'De servo arbitrio," is. nd 
remains, an unfortunate piece of bungling." " Die christl. Lehre yon 
der Rechtfertigung und VersShnung." 1 -, t3onn, 1882, p. 221. See 
below, vol. it., xiv. 3. 

According to Oceam's school tile purely spiritual at, tri- 
butes of God cannot be logically proved; it does not con- 
sider it as l>rovcd llcrelv by rcasou that God is the last and 
illll eJld of allan, a|l(l that out.idc of ]lira there is 11o real 
human hapl/incss , nor even, according to Oeealn himself, 
that " any final cause exists on account of which all thiugs 
hapl)e n ,, ;1 not only, according to him, must we be on our 
guard agaiust ally idea that reason eau arrive at God as the 
origin of hapl)inc.s an(l as the end of salvation, but cveu 
lIis attributes we must 1)cvarc of exaluilfing philool)hiell)-. 
God's outward action knows no lav, hut is purely arbitrary. 
Thus Occalnism, with its theory of the arhitrarv Diviue 
Will, lnanifcstiag itself ill the act of " aeecl)tation" or 
imputation, was luore likely to 1)r(duee a servile fcclilg of 
depcndcuee ou God than any childlike relationship; with 
this corresponded the feeling of the utter worthlesucss of 
lnan's own works ill relation to imputation, which, abso- 
lutely Sllcaking, lnight have been other thau it is, 
It i highly probable that the bewildered soul of the young 
Augustinian greedily lent all car to such ideas, and lalloured 
to make them meet his own needs. The douhts as to pre- 
destination which tormented him were certainly not lhcrcby 
diminished, but rather iuereased. IIow could tile idea of 
all arbitrary God have been of any use to hiln ? In all 
likelihood tile al)l)rchcnsivcness and obscurity which eolours 
his idea of God, ill the Colmncntary on Ioluans, was due 
to notions imbibed by hiln ill his school. Luther was later 
oil to express this conception ill his teaching regarding the 
" Deus abseonditus," oil wholn, as the source of all pre- 
destination (even to hell), we may not look, and whom we 
mav only tilnidly a.dorc. Already ill the Conllnclltary 
referred to he teaches the absohlte predestination to hell 
of those who are to be danmcd, a doctrine which no Oeeamist 
had vet ventured to put forward. 
Among the other points of contact between Luther's 
teaching and Occamism, or Nominalism, ve may mention, 
as a striking cxalnplc, his denial of Transubstantiatioll, 
which he expressly associates with oue of the theses of the 
Oecamist d'Ailly. Here his especial hatred of the school of 
St. Tholnas comes out vel3 glaringly. 
x ,, Non potest probari sucienter, quod Deus causa finalis." 
Quodlib. 4, q. 2. O1 her Nominalists go still further. 
I. --M 

Luther himself confesses later hov the Occamist school had 
led him to this denial. 1 When studying scholastic theology he 
had read in d'Ailly that the mystery of Christ's presence in the 
Sacrament of the Altar wonld be much more comprehensible 
could we but assume that He vas present with the bread, i.e. 
without any change of substance, but that this was impossible 
owing to the unassailable contrary teaching of the Church on 
Transubstantiation. The same idea is found in Occam. but of 
this Luther vas unaware. Luther criticises d'Ailly's appeal to 
the Church, and then proceeds : " I found out later on vhat sort 
of Church it is vhich sets up such a doctrine ; it is the Thomistic, 
the Aristotelian. My discovery made me bolder, and therefore 
I decided for Consfl)stantiation. The opinions of the Thomists, 
even though approved by Pope or Council, remain opinions and 
do not become arti(-les of faith, though an angel from heaven 
should say the contrary ; what is asserted apart from Scripture 
and without manifest revelation, cannot be believed. '' Yet in 
point of fact the term " Transsubsta**tietio " had been first used 
in a definition by the (Ecumenical Latera.n Council of 1215 to 
express the ancient teaching of the Church regarding the change 
of substance. According to what Luther here says, St. Thomas 
of Aquin (vhose birth occurred some ten years later) was re- 
sponsible for the introduction of the word and what it stood for, 
in other words for the doctrine itself. A little later Luther 
solenmly reaffirmed that " Transubstantiation is purely Thom- 
istic " (1522). " The Decretals settled the word, but there is 
no doubt that it was introduced into the Clmrch by those coarse 
blockheads the Thomists " (1541).  Hence either he did not 
knov of the Council or its date, or he did not know when St. 
Thomas wrote; in any case he was ignorant of the relation in 
which the teaching of St.. Thomas on this point stood to the 
teaching of earlier ages. He was unaware of the historical fact of 
the general adoption of the term since the end of the eleventh 
century ; he was not acquainted with the theologians who 
taught in the interval between the Lateran Council and St,. 
Thomas, and who used both the name and the idea of Tran- 
substantiation, and mnong whom vere Albertus Magnus and 
Alexander of Hales ; he cannot even have noted the title of the 
Decretal from which he derived the knowledge of the existence 
of the doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Middle Ages, for it 
is headed : " Inocentius tertius in concilio generali." 
That hc should have made St. Thomas rcsl)onsible for 
the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and that so rudely, 
 " Werke," Weim. ed., 6, p. 508; " Opp. Lat. vat.," 5, p. 29, 
" De captivitate babylonica," 1520. 
s "' Opp. Lat. vat.," 6, p. 423; Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 204. Cow, ira 
regem, Hem'icm. 
a To Prnce George or John of Anlmlt, June, 1541, "Briefe " (de 
Vette), 6, p. 284. 
 Cp. Denifle-Weiss, 1", p. 614 ft. 



1. Tauler and Luther 

JOIIN TAULEI, the mystic and Dominican 1)rcachcr of 
Strasburg, whom Luther so favoured, was quite Catholic 
in his teaching ; to attribute to him, as has been done, any 
Pantheistic ideas is to do him an injustice, and it is equally 
wrong to imagine that he forestalled Luther's llOiOllS 
regarding grace and justification. Yet his fanciful and 
suggestive mode of expression, his language which voiced, 
not the conceptual definiteness of Sehohtstieism, but the 
deep feelings of the speaker, often allows of his words being 
interpreted in a way quite foreigu to his real meaning. It 
was just this depth of feeling and this obscurity which 
attracted Luther. As his letters show, he breathed more 
freely while perusing Tauler's writings, because they re- 
sponded to his natural disposition and his moods, not the 
least 1)oint in their favour being the absence in them of 
those hard-and-dry philosophical and dialectical mmmerisms 
which were hatehfl to him. Without eveu rightly under- 
standing it, he at once applied the teaehiug of this nmster 
of mysticism to his o n inward condition and his new, grow- 
ing opinious; he clothed his own feelings and views in 
Taulcr's beautihfl and inspiring words. IIis beloved mother- 
tongue, so expertly handled in Taulcr's sermons, was at 
the stone time a new means of binding him still more firmly 
to the mystic. In Tauler the necessity of the complete 
surrender of the soul to the aetiou of God, of indifference 
and self-abandonlnent, is strongly emphasised. To free 
oneself as far as possible of self; to renounce all confidence 
in oneself in so far as this implies self-love and the pride 
of the siuful creature; to accept with waiting, longing, 
suffering confidence God's ahnighty working, this, with 
Tauler as with all true mystics, is the fundamental condition 



2. Effect of Mysticism on Luther 
The study of mysticism was not altogether disadvan- 
tageous to Luther, for it proved of use to him in various 
First, as regards his grasp of spiritual subjects and their 
expression ill words, Trader's simple and heartfelt nmnner 
taught him how to clothe his thoughts in popular and 
attractive dress. The proof of this is to be found in his 
writings for the people and in several of his more carefully 
prepared sermons, particularly in the works and sermons 
of the first period when the my.tical inlluencc was still 
predominant. Also with regard to the common bdy of 
Christian belief, so far as he still held fast to the same, 
several excellent elements of Catholic mvsticisln stood him 
in go(l stead, notwithstanding his inward alienation. 
The intimate attachment of the mystics to Christ and their 
hinging expectation of sah'ation through the Lord alone, 
sentiments which made an immense impression on his soul. 
nntwithstanding the fact that he understood theln ill a 
one-sided and mistakeu fashion, probably had their share 
ill preserving in him to tile very end his faith ill the Divinity 
of Christ and ill the salvation lie wronght. They also led 
him to esteem the whole ]3ible as the Word of God, and to 
hold fast to various other mysteries which some of" the 
lleformcrs opposed, for instance, the mysterious presence 
of Christ ill the Sacrament, even though they did not 
prevent him from lnodifying these doctrines according to 
his whim. While Luther retained many of the views rooted 
in tile faith and sentiment of earlier ages, the llationalism 
of Zwingli was ,nueh more ready to throw overboard what 
dkl not appear to be sauetioned by reason ; this came out 
especially ill the controversy on the Lord's Supper. The 
reason of this was that Zwingli had been trained in the 
school of a narrmv and critical Htmmnism ; of mysticism 
ill any shape or forln he knew nothing at all. 
._lllong the advantages which Luther derived from 
mysticism we cannot, however, reckon, as some have done, 
his later success against the fanatics ; this success was not 
a result of his having overcome their false mysticism by the 
true one. By that time he had a.hnost completely given 
up his mysticism, whether true or false. He certainly met 

ccrning which the other mystics and Taulcr are agreed, 
was wanting, viz. above all humility, cahnncss and that 
holy indifference, which allows itself to be led by God along 
the path of the rules of its calling without any ulterior, 
private aims; pcaccablcncss, coml)osure of inind and zeal 
in prayer were not his. Vhat mysticism left I)ehind in 
Luther was scarcely more than the fragrance of its words, 
without any tea.1 fruit. What took root and grcv in him was 
rather the hard wood from which lances are made, ready 
for every combat that may arise, lIis mysticism itself 
gives the impression of beinff part of the ba.ttle which his 
antagonism to the Oecamists led him to give to Scholasticism. 
Those who contradicted his new ideas---even his lmthcr 
monks, like the Erfurt lhilosophcrs and thcologians 
appeared to him to be opposed on account of their Scholas- 
ticism. The most effective way of escaping or overcoming 
them seemed to him the replacing of the older theology by 
another, in which, together with lIoly Scripture and St. 
Augustine, mysticism should occupy a chief place. 
By this, however, xve do not mean that the mysticism of 
Luther was merely a fighting weal)on. Frmn his letters we may 
gather that he lived in the belief that his new road would con- 
duct him to a joyous nearness to God. 
The letter is dated I)ecember 14, 1516, in which he exhorts his 
friend Spalatin, at the Court of the Elector, to taste in Tauler 
" the pure, thorough theology, which so closely resembles the 
old, and to see how bitter everything is that is ourselves," 
in order to "discover how sveet the Lord is. '' He is 
already so mystically inclined that he will not even advise 
his friend in answer to a query, which little religious books 
he should translate into Gernmn for the use of the people ; 
this advice lay in the counsel of God, as what was most whole- 
some for man was generally not appreciated ; hardly was there 
one who sought for Christ ; the world was full of wolves (these 
thoughts certainly seem to have remained with him in his public 
career); we must mistrust even our best intentions and be 
guided only by Christ in prayer; but the " swarm of religious 
and priests always follow their om good and pious notions and 
are thereby miserably deceived." 
His letter to George Sl)enlein , which is saturated with an 
extravagant mysticism of grace, also belongs to the same 
year, 1516.  
On December 4, 1516 (see above, p. 87), Luther finished 
seeing through the press the " Theologia Deutsch," which he 
 " Briefwechsel," l, p. 74 f. 
= April 8, " Briefwechsel," l, p. 28. See above, p. 88. 



and accompanying grace of G,d. It is, however, clear that 
there was in his own soul a dislike for works ; so strong in 
fact is his feeling in this regard that he simply calls all works 
" works of the law," and cannot bc too forcible in demon- 
strating the antagonism of thc A1)ostlc to their Sul)poscd 
over-estimati,n. Probably one reason for his selection of 
this Epistle for interpretation was that it appeared to him 
to agree even better than other biblical works with his own 
ideas against " soil'-righteousness." 1Ve must now consider 
in detail some of the leading ideas of the Commentary on 

2. Gloomy Views regarding God and Predestination 
The tendency to a dismal conceltion of God plays, in 
combination with his ideas on 1)rcdestination, an incMvc 
part in Luther's Commentary on l{omans, which, so far, 
has received too little attention. The tendency is noticeable 
throughout his early mental history, lie was ncvcr able 
to overcome his former temptations to sadness and despair 
on account of the possibility of his irrevocable predestination 
to hell, suflicicntly to attain to the joy of the children of 
God and to the trustflfl rccognitim of God's gencral and 
certain will for our salvation. The advice which Staupitz, 
among others, gave him was assuredly correct, viz. to take 
refuge in the wounds of Christ, and Luther probably tried 
to follow it. But wc do not h, arn that hc paid diligent hccd 
to the further admonitions of the ancient ascetics, to exert 
oneself in the practice of good works, as though one's 
predestination depended cntircly on the works one performs 
with the grace of God. On the contrary, of set lmrposc, hc 
avoided any effort on his own part and preferred the ntis- 
lcading mystical views of Quictism. 
The melancholy idea of predestination again peeps out 
unabashcd in the passage in his Commentary on the Psahns, 
where he says, that Christ " drank the cup of pain for IIis 
elect, but not for all. '' 
If he set out to explain the Epistle to the llomans with a 
gloomy conception of God, in which we recognise the old 
temptations regarding predestination, owing to his lnis- 
apprehcnsiol of certain passages of the Epistle concerning 

 " Werke," Weim. ed., 4, p. 227. 



are closely akin to Occam's acceptation-theory, show : " We 
must always be filled with anxiety, ever fear and await the 
Divine acceptance " ; for as all our works are in themselves evil, 
" only those arc good which God imputes as good; they are 
in fact something or nothing, only in so far as God acccpts t, hen 
or not." " The eternal God has chosen good works from the 
beginning that they should please Hiln," 1 ,, but how can [ ever 
know that my deed pleases (led ? How can I even know that n W 
good intention is fron God ? "- Hence, away with the proud 
self-righteous (" superbi iustitiarii ") who are so sttrc of their 
good works ! 
Fear, desponding humility and self-annihilation, according 
to Luther, arc the only feelings one can cherish in front of this 
terrible, unaccountable God. a " He who despairs of himself is 
the one whom God accepts."  
He also speaks of a certain " payor Dei," which is the founda- 
tion of salvation : " trepidare et terreri " is the best sign, as it is 
said in Psalm cxliii. : " Shoot out Thy arrows and Thou shalt 
trouble them," the " terrens Deus " leads to life.  True love d-cs 
not ask any enjoyment from (;od, rather, he here repeats, ho- 
ever loves Hinl from the hope of t)eiug made eternally hal)l)y by 
Him, or from fear of being wretched without Him, has a sinful 
and selfish love (" amor concupiscentice "); but to allow tile 
terrors of God to encompass us, to be ready to accept from 
Hinl the most bitter interior and exterior cross, to all eternity, 
that only is perfect love. And even with such love wc are 
dragged into thick interior darkness.  

All these gloomy thoughts which cloud his mind, gather, 
when he comes to explain cha.1)tcrs viii. and ix. of the Epistle 
to the Romans, where the Apostle deals with the question 
of election to grace. 
Luther thinks he has here found in St. Paul the doctrine 
of predestination, not only to heaven, but also to hell, 
expressed, lnoreovcr, in the strongest terms. At the same 
time he wa.rns his hearers against faint-hcartcdlcSS, being 
well aware how dangerous his views might prove to souls. 
" Let no one immerse himself in these thoughts who is not 
purified in spirit., lest he sink into an abyss of horror and despair ; 
tile eyes of the heart must first be purified by contenq)lating tile 
wounds of Christ. I discourse upon these naatters solely because 
tile trend of the lectures leads up to them, and because they are 
unavoidable. It is the strongest wine there is, and the most 
perfect food, a solid nourishment for the perfect ; it is that most 
exalted theology of which the Apostle says (1 Cot. ii. 6) : 'we 

'' Schol. l%ora.," p. 221. 
Ibid.. p. 221. 
Ibid., p. 214. 

Ibid.. p. 323. 
Ibid., p. 223. 
Ibid., pp. 215-20. 

tion be possiblc to him who rcally belicves himsclf dcstincd 
to hell, and who sees evcn in his rcsignation no moans 
whcrcby hc can cscal)c it ? 
To such a onc cvcn thc " womds of Christ" offer no 
assurancc and no place of rcfugc. Thcy only spcak to man 
of thc God of rcvelation, not of thc mystcrious, nnscarchablc 
God. Thc untcnablc and insulting comparison bctwccn thc 
mystcrious and thc rcvcalcd Sul)rcmc Bcing which Luther 
was latcr on to institutc is hcrc alrcady forcshadowcd. 
lie Cxl)lfins in detail how thc will of man docs not in thc 
lcast belong to thc pcrson who wills, or thc road to thc 
runncr. " All is God's, who givcs and crcatcs the will." 
We arc all instruments of God, who wrks all in all. Our 
will is likc the saw and the stickcxa.lnlflCs which hc rc- 
pcatcdly Clnploys la.tcr in his harshcst uttcranccs conccrning 
thc slavcry of thc will. Sawing is thc act of thc lmnd which 
saws, but thc saw is passivc; thc animal is bcatcn, 
not by the stick, but by him who holds thc stick. So thc 
will also is nothing, but God who wMds it is cvcrything.  
IIcnec hc rcjcets most positively the thcological doctrinc 
that God forcsces the final lot of nm.n as something " con- 
tingeterful.urzcm," i.e. that besees his rejection as something 
dependent on man and brought abeut by his own fault. 
No, according to Luther, in the election of grace everything 
is preordained " inflexibili ct firma rol,ntate," and this, 
IIis own will, is alone present in the mind of God. 
Luther speaks with scorn of " our subtle theologians," who 
drag in their " contingens "' and build up an election by grace on 
" necessitas conseq,entiee, sed non conseque,tis," in accordance 
with the well-known scholastic ideas. " With God there is 
absolutely no 'co, tingens,' but only with us; for no leaf ever 
falls from the tree t,o the earth without the will of the Father." 
Besides, the theologians--so he accuses the Scholastics without 
exception--" have imagined the ease so, or at least have led to 
its being so imagined, as though salvation were obtained or lost 
through our own free will."  
We know that here he was wrong. As a matter of fact, true 
Scholasticism attributed the work of salvation to grace together 
with free will, so that two factors, the Divine and the hmnan, 
or the supernatural and the natural, are nmtually engaged in the 
same. But Luther, when here reporting the old teaching, does 
not mention the factor of grace, but only "nostrum arbitriun." 
tie then adds: " Thus I once understood it." If he really 
a " Sehol.," p. 225. 0" Ibid., pp. 208, 209, 210. 


ever believed salvation to be exclusively the xvork of free will, 
then he erred grievously, and nerely proves how defectixTe his 
st, udy, even of Gabriel Biel, had been. 
He also int,erpr(-ted quite xvrongly the view of contemporary 
and earlier scholastic theologians ou the love of God, and, agaiu, 
by excluding the supernatural factor. He reproaches them with 
having, so lie says, considered the love iu question as merely 
natural (" ex ncttttra ") and yet as wholesome for eternal life, and 
lie demands that all wholesome love be made to 1)roceed " ex 
Spirittt Sancto," a thing vhich all theologians, even the Occam- 
ists, had insisted on. He says : " they do not know in the least 
what love is, ''a " nor do they know what virtue is, because they 
allow themselves to be instructed on this poiat by Aristotle, 
vhose definition is absolutely erroneous."-" It makes no im- 
1)ressiou ul)on him--l)erhal)s he is even ignorant of the fact-- 
that the Scholo,stics consider, ou good grouuds, the love which 
loves God's goodness as goodness towards us, and which makes 
personal salvation its motive, COml)atible with the lerfect love 
of f'iendshi l) (amiciti(v, complacentice).  According to him, this 
love must be extirl)ated ("amor exstit'pandtts ")because it is full 
of abominable self-seeking.  In its place he sets u l)  most 
perfect love (which will be described below), which includes 
resignation to, and even a desire for, hell-fire, a resiguation such 
a.s Christ Himself malaifest,ed (!) in His abandonnaent to s(fffering. 
Luther had nov left the safe path of theological and ecclesi- 
astical tradition to l)ursue his o'n ideas. 
It is true that, notwithstanding his exhortation to 1)e resigned 
to the holy -ill of God in every case, he looks -ith fear at the 
flood of blasphemies ,hich must arise in the heart of one who 
fears his on irrevocable, undeserved damnation. Anxious to 
obviate this, or to arm the conscience against it, when pointing 
to the wounds of Christ he adds these words : " Should anyone, 
owing to overmastering temptation, come to blaspheme God, 
that would not involve his eternal damnation. For ex-en towards 
the godless our God is not a God of impatience and cruelty. Such 
blasphemies are forced out of a man by the devil, therefore they 
may be more pleasing to God's ear than any Alleluia or song of 
])raise. The more terrible and abominable a blasphenay is, the 
more plemsing it is to God when the heart feels that it does not 
acquiesce in it, i.e. when it is involuntary. '' 
Involuntary thoughts, to 'hich alone he sees fit, to refer, are, 
of course, not deserving of l)unishmeut ; but are the nattrmurs 
and angry complaints against predestination to hell of 'hich he 
sl)eaks ahvays only involuntary ? The way to 'esignatiou which 
he naentions in the san]e connection is no less questionable. It 

x "Schol. Rom.," p. 219.  Ibid., p. 221. 
a Bonaventure, in iii., dist. 27, a. 2. q. 2 : " Amot" concupiscentioe 
o repugat anori amicitioe i caritttte," etc. Cp. Thong. Aquin., 
2-2, q. 23, a. 1. 
a " Schol. Rom.," pp. 210, 218. 
 Ibid.. p. 227. 


may not pride himsclf on his mcrits, and thc damncd may 
only bcvail his dcmcrits. '' In his mcditations on thc evcr- 
inscrutable mystery he rcgards the sinncr's fault, as cntircly 
voluntary, and his revolt a,gaiust the ctt.rmd God as, on 
this account, worthy of ctcrnal damnali,)n. Augustine 
tcachcs that " to him as to cvery man who comcs into this 
world " sah-ation was offcrcd with a wcalth of mcans of 
gracc and with all thc mcrits of Christ's bittcr dcath on thc 
(_'rOSS. 2 
Luthcr also quotcd thc Biblc passagcs rcgarding God's 
will f" thc salvation of all mcm but ]y in ordcr [o say of 
thcm: " such cxprcssions arc ahvays to bc undcrstocd 
cxclusivcly of thc clcct." It is mcrcly " wisdom of the 
flcsh " to attcmpt to find a will of God that all mcn bc savcd 
in thc assurancc o[ St. Paul: " G(d wills that all men 
shall bc savcd " (1 Tim. ii. ), or " in thc passagcs which 
say, that ]Ic gavc His Son for us, that Hc crcatcd man for 
eternal life, and that cvcrything was crcatcd for man, but 
man for God that hc might cnjoy ][hn ctcrnally. '' 

Other objections which Luther nakes he sets aside with the 
same facility by a reference to the thoughts he has developed 
above, a Thus the first : Bq W did God give to man free will by 
means of which he can merit either reward or punishment ? His 
answer is : Where is this free will ? Man has no free will for 
doing what is good. Then a second objection : " God damns no 
one without sin, and he who is forced to sin is damned unjustly." 
The answer to this is new : God ordains it so that those who are 
to be danmed are gladly, even though of necessity, in sin (" dat 
voluntarie velle in peccato esse et ?anere et diligere iniquitatem "). 
Finally, the last objection: " Why does God give them com- 
mandments which lie does not will them to keel), yea hardens 
their will so much that they desire t.o act contrary to the law ? 
Is not God in this case the cause of their inning and being 
dmnned ? .... Yes, that is the difficulty," he admits, " which, as 
a matter of fact, has the most force; it is the weightiest of all. 
But to it the Apostle makes a slecial answer xx hen he teaches : 
God so wills it, and God Who thus wills, is not evil. Everything 
is His, just as the clay belongs to the lotter and waits on his 

x ,, Schol. Rom.," p. 230, and Autst., "Enchiridion ad Laurent.," 
c. 98, Migne, P. L., xl., p. 278. 
 S. Aug., "Contra Iulianum," 6, n. 8, 14, 24; " Opus imperf.," 
l, c. 64, c. 132 seq., 175 ; " De catechiz, rudibus," n. 52 ; " De 
spiritu et litt.," c. 33 ; " Retract," l, c. 10, n. 2. Cp. Cornely, p. 494, 
ou some exegetical peculiarities of Augustine. 
a " Schol. lom.," p. 212. 
 Ibid., p. 213. 

I-Ie gives the following exhortation with great emphasis and 
ahnost as though he had made an astounding discovery : " Who- 
ever goes to confession, let him not believe that he gets rid of his 
burden and can then live in peace. ''t His nexv doctrine of sin, 
xvhieh he discloses in the stone passage, lies at tile bottom of this ; 
the baptised and the absolved must on no aecotmt forthwith 
consider themselves free from sin, on the contrary " they nmst 
not fancy themselves sure of the righteousness they have obtained 
and allow their hands to drop listlessly as though they were 
not conscious of any sin, for they have yet to i3ght against it and 
exterminate it with sighs and tears, with sadness and effort."  
" Sin, therefore, still remains in the spiritual mau for his 
exercise in the life of grace, for the humbling of his pride, for the 
driving back of his presumption; whoever does not exert 
himself zealously in the struggle against it, is in danger of being 
condenmed even though he cease to sin any more (' sine dubio 
labet, ude damnetur '). .Ve must cm'ry on a war with our 
desires, for they are culpable (' culpa '), they are really sins and 
render us worthy of dmnnation ; only the mercy of God does not 
impute them to us (' imputare ') when we fight nanfully against 
them, calling upon God's grace. ''s 
There arc few passages in the Commentary where his false 
conccl)tion of the entire corrul)tion of human nature by 
original sin and concupiscence comes out so plainly as in the 
words just quoted. V'e see here too how this conception 
leads him to the denial of all liberty for doing what is good, 
and to the idea of inaputation. 
We can well understand that he needed St. Augustine to 
assist hiln to cover all this. And yet, as though to em- 
phasise his own devious course, he quotes, among other 
passages, one in which Augustine confutes the view of 
any sin being present in lnan simply by reason of con- 
" If ve do not consent to concupiscence," Augustine says, " it 
is no sin in those ho are regenerate, so that, even if the '_Non 
concupisces' is infringed, yet the injuuetion of Jesus Siraeh 
(xviii. 30) 'Go not after thy lusts' is observed. It is merely 
a manner of speaking to call concupiscence sin (" modo qttodam 
loquendi "), because it sprang from sin, and, when it is victorious, 
causes sin. '' To this statement of the Father of the Church, 
which is so antagonistie to his own ideas, Luther can only add : 
t "Sehol. Born.," p. 179. 
 Ibid., p. 178. See above, p. 209, n. 1. 
a Ibid., p. 178. 
 Ibid., p. 181. The passage quoted from Augustine is in " De 
nuptiis et cocupiscentia ad I'alerium," 1. 1, e. 23 ; Migne, P. L., xliv., 
col 428. 

" It is certain tliat God's elect will be saved, but no one is certain 
that he is chosen." 
Luther repeatedly represents the feeling of despair (under the 
name of " humilitas ") as not merely a means of reeognising the 
ilnputation of God and thereith one's salvation, but even as in 
itself the only means which can lead to salvation. He praises 
"hmnility " in mystical language as something man must 
struggle to attain and as the ideal of the devout. It occupies 
ahnost the same place in his mind as the "sola tides" at a 
later date. 
That " humility " is to him the actual factor hich obtains 
the imputation of the merits of Christ and thus makes the soul 
righteous and wins for it eternal salvation, is apparent not only 
from the above, but also from the following utterances : " When 
we are convinced that we are unrighteous and without the fear 
of God, when, thus hulnbled, we acknowledge ourselves to be 
godless and foolish, then xc deserve to be justified by I-{iln. ''x 
The fear of God works humility, but humility makes us tit for all 
[salvation]; we must merely rcsign otu'selves to the admission 
that " tliere is nothing so righteous that it is not unrighteous, 
nothing so true that it is not a lie, nothing so pure ihat it is not 
filthy and profane before God. ''=. "Let us be sinners in humility 
and only desire to be justified by the mercy of God." He alone 
who acknowledges liis entire unrighteousness, ho fears and 
beseeches, he alone, " as an abiding sinner," opens for himself the 
door to salvation, a 
We must believe everything that is of Christ, lie says, and 
only he does this who htunbly bewails his o n utter unrighteous- 
heSS. a The mystic star of "lnunility "  hich has arisen to him 
he even describes as the " vera tides," and makes the following 
inference: " As this is so, we must humble ourselves beyond 
bounds." " Wlien we have hmnbled ourselves wholly before 
God, then we have fulfilled righteousness, wholly and entirely 
(' totam perfectamqe iustitiam ') ; for what else does all Scripture 
teach but hmnility ? " 
Luther ascribes to " humility " all that he later ascribes to 
faith; " all Scripture," which now teaches humility, will later 
teach that faith is the only power which saves. In that very 
Epistle to the 1Romans, hich at a later date was to be the 
bulwark of his " sola tides," he can as yet, in 1515 and 1516, find 
only "sola humilitas." ]-Iis frequent exhortations to self- 
annihilation and despair of one's o n efforts, exhortations taking 
the form of fulsome praise of one particular kind of liumility, 
must be traced back to mystical influcnce and to his irritation 
against the " proud self-righteous." 
It is true that Luther had. from the very l)cgilming of 
his exposition, as thc cdittr of thc COmlnentary justly 
points out, " taken his stand against thc scholastic [rather 
x ,, Sehol. 1Rom.," p. 84. - 1bid., p. 83.  1bid., p. 89. 
a 1bid., p. 86 f. s 1bid.. p. 39. 


8. Subjectivism and Church Authority. Storm and Stress 

Subjcctivism plays an important par in the cxposition 
of the Epistle to the Romans. 
It makes itself felt not merely in Luther's treatment of 
the Doctors and the prevalent theological opinions, lint also 
in his ideas concerning the ('hutch and her authoritv. We 
emmot fail to see that the Church is begimfing to take the 
second place in his mind. Notwithstanding the mmwrous 
long-decided controversial questions raised iu the Com- 
mentary, there is hardly any mention of the teaching office 
of the Church, and the reader is not made aware that with 
regard to these questions there existed in the Church a fixed 
body of faith, established either by actual dclinition or by 
generally aeeel)tcd theological ol)inion. The doctrine of 
absolute predestination to hell, for instance, had long before 
been authoritatively repudiated in the decisions against 
Gottsehalk, but is nevertheless treated by Luther as an 
open question, or rather as though it had been decided in 
the armative, thus making of God a cruel avenger of 
involuntary guilt. 
The impetuous author, following his mistaken tendency 
to independence, disdains to be guided by the heritage of 
ecclesiastical and theological truth, as the Catholic professor 
is wont to be in his researches in theology and iu his ex- 
planations of tIoly Scripture. Luther, though by no means 
devoid of faith in the Church, and in the existence in her of 
the living Spirit of God, lacks that ecclesiastical feeling which 
insl)ircd so ninny of his contemporaries in their speculations, 
both theological and philosophical; we need only recall 
his own professor, Johmm Paltz, and Gabriel Bicl to whom 
he owed so much. Impelled by his subjcetivism, and careless 

at rely definite certainty of salvation " (p. 195), and that his statements 
are not " in touch with the saving faith of the I/eformation" (ibid.); lie 
finds, however, in the fear which Luther demands, " an clement for 
overcoming the tmcertainty with regard to salvation" (p. 198), 
indeed, he even thinks (p. 199) that '" lie had practically arrived at a 
certainty of salvation." So much may be admitted, that the incom- 
pleteness of the system contained in the Commentary led Luther at a 
later period to add to his numerous other errors, that of absolute 
certainty of salvation by " faith alone." With this our position is 
made clear with regard to Holl's article '" Heilsgewissheit im Yl6mer- 
briefkonunentar," in the "Zeitschr. f. Theol. mid Kirche," 20, 1910, 
p. 245 ft., where the doctrhe of assurance is dated as far back as 1516 
(p. 290). 

subject to all (by charity). 1 Yet, both in thc Commentary 
on Romans and in the works which were soon to follow, 
" the willing servant " is more and more ousted by raise 
ideas of independence, so that a danger arises of only the 
" free master of all thigs " rcnmining. In the Commentary 
on Romans all exterior submission to the Church is, in 
princil)le , menaced by a liberty :hich, appealing to the 
inward experience of the Word mad a dccpcr conceptioa of 
religion, seeks to overstep all barriers. 
The confused ideas for which hc was beholden to his 
pseudo-mysticism wcrc in great part the cause of this and 
of other errors. 

9. The Mystic in the Commentary on Romans 
Since the al)pearancc iu print of Luther's Commentary on 
Romans it has bccn 1)ossiblc to perceive more clearly the 
omim,us power xvhich false mysticism had gaincd over the 
young author. 
lIis misal)prchension of some of the l)rincipal elements 
of Taulcr's sermons and of the "Thcologia Dcutsch" stands 
out in sharp relief in these lectures on the Pauline Epistle, 
and wc scc more plainly how the obscure ideas hc finds in 
the mystics at once amalgamate with his own. The con- 
ncction between the pseudo-mysticism which hc has built 
u l) on the basis of truc mysticism, and the method of theology 
which hc is already 1)ursuing, al)pcars hcrc so great, and he 
folh)ws so closely the rather elastic figures and thoughts 
provided by the mystical science of the soul, that we are 
almost tempted, after reading his exposition of the Epistle 
to the Romans, to ask whether all his intellectual mistakes 
wcrc uot an outcome of his mysticism. The fact is, however, 
that hc began his study of lnysticism only after having 
commcuccd fornmlating the principles of his new world 
of thought. It was only after the ferment had gone on 
working for a considerable time that hc chanced Ul)On certain 
mystic works. Yet, strange to say, the mysticism with 
which hc then became acquainted was not that German 
variety which had already been infected with the errors 
of Master Eckhart, but the sounder mysticism which had 
avoided the pitfalls. It is a tragic coincidence that mysti- 
a " Wea'ke," geim. ed., 7, p. 49. De libcrtatc chritiana. 

pcriences. Mysticism it is which lends its deep and fiery 
hue to his thoughts; where Luther is describing tile nlost 
intilnate proeesses and gives their highest expression to the 
thoughts which inspire him, it is mysticism which is speaking 
through him . . . the eoml)lete and uneonditional surrender 
of man to God. ''1 
Luther gives in a peculiar fashion his reasons for taking such 
a standpoint: " The Nature of God demands that He should 
first destroy and annihilate everything there is in us before He 
imparts His gifts. For it is written: 'The Lord maketh poor 
aud maketh rich, Me bringeth dowu to hell and bringeth back 
again.' By this most gracious plan Ho renders us fit for the 
reception of His gifts and His works. IVo are then receptive 
to His works and plans when our o13-11 plaus and our own works 
have ceased, and we become quite passive towards God (' quando 
nostm cosilia cessnt ct opera quiescunt et eicimur pure passivi 
rcspccta Dei ") both as regards exterior and interior activity. 
Then the uttcrallc sighs commeuee, then the ,_lnnt 
comes and helps our infirmity.' "' It is iu the description of 
this " sufl'ering and bearing of God " that he expressly quotes 
Tauler as the teacher of the higher form of prayer, adding: 
"" Yes, yes, 'we know not how we should pray,' therefore the 
Spirit is necessary to assist us in our weakness." " As a woman 
remains 1)assive in conception, so we must remain passive to 
the first, grace and eternal salvation. For our soul is Christ's 
bride. Before grace, it. is true, we pray and implore, hut when 
grace comes and the soul is to be impregnated by the Spirit, then 
it, nmst neither pray uor act, but only endm'e. To the soul this 
seems hard and it is downcast, for that the soul should be without 
act of the understmding and the will, that is lnueh like sinking 
into darkness, destruction and mmihilatiou (' in perditionem et 
anniIilatiotem ') ; from this prosl)eet she shrinks back in horror, 
but in so doing she often deprives herself of the most precious 
gifts of grace. ''a 
It was just on this point that Luther most completely mis- 
apprehended Tauler. It is true that this mediaeval mystic speaks 
strongly against any too great esteem of humau activity, and 
that he also recommends the spiritual man, in certain eiremn- 
st.anees, to " refuse all exterior works the better to devote himself 
with the necessary submission and in entire peace " to interior 
communication with his Maker and Highest Good, and, as he 
says, " to suffer God. '' But he does not thereby recommend 
man to long after a state without thought or will, or after mere 
nothingness--in order to magnify God and His powers alone; 
according to Tauler, grace does not work in the soul " without 
the eo-operat.ion of the understanding and the will." 
 P lxxxii. " " Sehol. 1Rein.," p. 203. 
 Ibid., pp. 205, 206. 
 Cp. Braun, " Coneupiseenz," p. 281, 286. 


The Quenching of the " Good Spark in the Soul " 
Luther in the above recommendation to passivity falsely 
assumes that the soul is entirely eorrul)tcd by original sin 
and only offends God with its acts. This also appears clearly 
in the Commentary on Romans. Protestants thcmseh'es 
now admit that Luther deviated from the standpoint of the 
orthodox mystics, particularly from that of Tanler, and 
that " in the view of the m.vsties of the Middle Ages there 
is no doubt that tlte natnral good in man outweighs the 
natural evil. The central point in which all the lines of 
mystic theology converge is this indestructible goodness." 
So speaks a Protestant theologian.  
In Gerson, the mystic whon Luther had studied iu his early 
days a.t Erfurt, he must have net with the beautifnl teaching, 
that the soul had received fronl (od a natural tendency towards 
what is good, that this is " the virginal portion of the soul," 
which is the " som'ee and seat of mystical theology." "- Tauler 
is fond of treating of this " noble spark of fire in the soul," of 
" this interior nobility xvhich lies hidden in the depths. ''a The 
Scholastics, too, unanimously teach this disl)osition to good 
which remains after original sin. 
Luther, when opposing the good tenden(.y, attacks only the 
Scholastics, not the mystics ; he declares that all the errors on 
grace and nature  hieh he has to withstand entered through the 
hole hieh the Scholastics nade with their " syntheresis. '' 
One thing is certain, viz. that he was wrong in foisting his view 
of the absolute corruption of the human race on the mystics ; 
" he could not.," the Protestant theologian a.bov, referred to 
adrift.s, " quite truthfully invoke the support of the mystics for 
his assertions. ''n The doctrines which Taulcr advances in the 
very context iu which his blame of the self-righteous oectu's, 
viz. that there is no righteousness without personal acts, that 
even the sinner can do what is good, that he, more especially, 
must prepare himself for the grace of justification, pass unheeded 
in Luther's exposition of the Epistle to the Romans. " Luther 
overlooked this series [of testiluonies given by Tauler]; only 
the statements regarding the righteous by works made any im- 
pression on him; his polemics are directed against those who 
serve two masters, who wish to please God and the world and 
to do great things for God's sake : these are the people who are 
at hem't satisfied with themselves." n 

x Braun, p. 296.  Ibid., p. 297.  Ibid. 
 On the syntheresis, see above, p. 75. When Luther, on the 
st.rengt.h of lomans ii., nevertheless, recognises " that natural religion 
exerts the force of conscience in the hearts of the heathen," he is 
contradicting himself without being aware of it. (Bram, p. 300.) 
s Braun, p. 296.  Ibid., p. 28. 

condit.ion. 1 Thus his idea of the aright of t.he soul is quite 
different froln that of the lnystics, though he describes it 
in ahnost the salne words, and, thanks to his ilnagination 
and eloquence, possibly in even nlore striking eolours. 
Several times in his Colnmentary Oil Romans he repre- 
sents resignation to, indeed even an actual desire for, 
damnation--should that be tile will of God--as something 
grand and sul)linle. Therel)y he thinks he is teaching the 
highest degree of resignation to God's insel'utable will; 
therel)y the highest step on the ladder of self-al)negation has 
been attained, hi reality it is an ideal of a frightful char- 
acter, far worse avail than a return to nothingness. He lets 
us see here, as he does so often in other matters, how greatly 
his tnrbulent spirit inclined to extrenles, z 
" If men willed what flod wills," he writes, " even though He 
should will to dmnn and reject them, they would see no evil in 
that tin the predestination to hell which he teaches] ; for, as 
they will what God wills, they have, owing to their resignation, 
the will of God in them." Does he mean by t.his t.hat they 
should resigu themselves to hating God for all eternity ? Luther 
does not seem to notice that hatred of God is an essential part 
of the condition of those who are danmed (" damari et reprobari 
ad infernum "). Has he perlaaps come to conceive of a hatred 
of (lod proceeding from love ? He seems almost to credit those 
who think of hell, with a resolve to bear everything, even hatred 
of God, with loving submission to the will of I-Iim Who by His 
predestination has willed it. 
He even dares to say to those who are affrighted by pre- 
destination to hell, that resignation to eternal lmnMmaent is, 
for the truly wise, a source of " ineffable joy " ("ineffabili 
itcditate in i'ta materia delcctattr"); for the perfect this is 
" the best purgation from their own will," i.e. the way of the 
greatest bitterness, " because under charity the cross and suffering 
is always understood." Bnt all, he says, even the half-imperfect, 
a Cp. Luther's appeal t.o Tauler : " JDe ista paticttia JDei et suffcrentia 
vide Tatdcrtm.,'" eta. (see above, p. 232). Dcuifle, 1 , p. 484, remarks : 
" The above statements are in part founded on Tauler, whom 
Luther misunderstood throughout. The two stood on different grotmd 
and had a different starting-point and a different goal." 
 In allusion to such doctrines, Dcnifle speaks (Denifle, 1, p. 486) 
of " Luther's worse than morbid, yea. terriMe theology." The passages 
in Tauler which have been alleged to show that his teaching was 
similar to that of Luther on this point, have quite a different sense. 
Tauler did not. recognise the undeserved reprobation which Luther 
presupposes ; he makes the horrible misfortune of eternal reprobation, 
which culminates in hatred of God, a result, of voluntary separation 
from Him in this life. 
 " Sehol. Rom.." pp. 213, 223. 


greater than that of all the saints. His sufferings were not easy 
to Him, as some have imagined, because I-Ie actually and in 
truth offered I-Iimself to the eternal Father to be cousigned to 
eternal danmation for us (' quod realiter et vere se in eter.nam 
damnationem obtulit Deo patri foro nobis '). His human nature 
did not behave differently from that of a man who is to be 
condemned eternally to hell. On account of this love of God, 
God at once raised Him from death and hell, and so He over- 
came hell (' eum suscitavit a tmrte et iferm et sic momordit 
i(ferum" ; cp. Osee xiiL 14). All His saints nmst follow this 
example, some more, some less; and according to the degree 
of their perfection in love they find this harder or easier. But 
Christ 1)ore the most severe form of it (' durissime hoc fecit '), 
and for this reason He laments in many passages (in the Messianic 
Psahns) the lmius of hell."* 

In the li.ffht of passages such a.s these we can understand 
to some cx|cnt lhc lurid, f:m('ihfl, mystic dcscril)tion which 
he gives enrlv in 1518, clcnrlv on the strength of his own 
states of mind. lie tells how a man fancies himself at 
certain moments phmgcd into h(.ll, and feels his breast 
picrecd by all the pangs of everlasting despair, because hc 
apprehends (;od's " frightful ire " and the impossibility of 
ever 1)cing delivered. This gr)tcsquc picture of a soul, 
with which wc shall dcnl nmrc fully later, although it is 
partly taken ahnost word for word from the earlier de- 
scriptions of the mystics, reveals its morbid character more 
especially 1)y the fact, that the hope, which, in the case of 
the devout, remains in the depths of the soul even throughout 
the most severe interior trials, seems entirely al)sent. God 
is seen as lie appeared to Luther, i.e. as an inexorable, 
arl)itrary punisher of His creature. = 
Luther's mysticism is veritably a mysticism of despair 
md the " humilltas," with its love ready even for hell, 
which he belauds as the anchor of safety, is a forced ex- 
pedient really excluded ly his system, md which he himself 
discarded as soon as he was aide to replace it 1)y the (god- 
given) tides, in the shape of faith in personal justification 
and salvation. 

" Schol. Rom., p. 218 f. 
The frequently quoted description is to be found in " lVerke," 
Weim. ed., l, p. 557 f. 



use of the "exegetical ability" of Nicholas of Lyra, 1 
following him for the tcxt as well as for the intcrl)rctation 
and division of the subject; this was the author whose 
assistance hc had formerly declined with far too nmch 
contempt. Other authorities whom hc also consults arc 
Paul of Burgos, Peter Lombard, for his cxplanations of the 
Epistle to the Romans, and, for the division of the matter, 
particularly the Schemata of Fabcr Stalmlensis. ]Iis own 
linguistic training and his knowledge of ancient literature 
were of great service to him, as also was his natural quickness 
of judgment combined with sagacity. ]Ic frequently quotes 
passages from St. Augustine, and through him, i.e. at second- 
hand, from Cyprian and Chrysostom ; in his iulcrl)retations 
tim mc(licval authorities ()f whom he makes most use arc 
the Master of the Sentences and St. l{crnar(l. 2 The way 
in which Aristotle aud the Scholastics arc handled is drcady 
plain from what we have said. Reminiscences of the works 
of his own 1)rofcssors, Paltz, Trutfettcr and Usingen, are 
merely general, and hc freely differs from them. As an 
Occamist he feels himself in contradicti)u to the Thomists 
and to some extent als() to the Scotists; in addition to 
Occam, d'Ailly, Gcrson and Biel have a great iullucncc on 
him, even in his intcrl)rctation of thc Bil)lc. Taulcr. wh() 
has so frequently been mentioned, also ]cft dec l) traces (f 
his influence not only in the matter of the Commentary, but 
also in the language, which is often obscure, rich in imagery 
and full of feeling, while here and there wc sccm to find 
reminiscences of the " Thcol)gia Dcutsch " which Luther 
was to publish at the chsc of his lectures. The latter wns, 
" to his thinking, the most exact CXl)rcssion of the great 
thoughts of the Epistle to the l()mans. ''z 
From a learned ])oiut of view his exegesis would prol)nbly 
have been different and far more reliable had he consulted 
the famous Commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas on the 
Epistlc to the Romans, not merely for thc division of his 
subject, but also for the matter. This Commentary hcht 
the first place, as regards clcarncss and depth of thought. 
among previous expositions, yet not once does Luther quote 
it, and, probably, he had ncvcr Ol)cncd the work for the 

j. Ficker ia the Preface of his edition of the Commentary, p. liv. 
For the sources used by Luther, see Ficker, pp. liii.-lxii. 
Thus Ficker, p. lxii. 

he nmst go on from virtue to virtue and, a.s the Apostle 
says, be renewed from day to day by constantly mortifying 
the members of his flesh and offering them as the weapons 
of righteousness for sanctification. 
In his Commcntary on Romans Luthcr a.lrcady breaks 
away from tradition, i.e. from thc whole growth of the past, 
even on matters of the utmost moment, and this not at all 
to the advantage of theology ; not merely the method and 
nmdc of expression does hc oppose, hut cvcn the very 
substance of doctrine. 
Protestant thcohNy, following in his footsteps, went 
further. Many of its representatives, as wc shall scc, 
honestly expressed their serious doubts as to whether the 
Bible teaching of sanctification by gracethat process 
which, according to the scriptural descriptions just quoted, 
takes l)lacc in the very innermost being of ma.nis really 
expressed correctly by the Lutheran doctrine of the iml)uta- 
tion of a lmrcly extraneous righteousness. But even to-day 
there arc others who still SUpl)ort Luther's views in a 
slightly modified form, and who will have it that the 
scholastie and later teaching of the Church is a. doctrine of 
mere nmm, as though she made of saving grace a magical 
power, of which the agency is ba.ptism or absohtion. It 
is truc that the process of sanctification as a.lprchcndcd by 
faith is to a large extent involved in impenetrable mystery, 
but in Christimfity there is nmch else which is mysterious. 
It is pcrhal)s this mysterious clement which gives offence 
and aceouuts for Catholie doctrine being deseribed hy so 
opl)robrious a word as " magie." Some Protestants of the 
same school are also given to 1)raising Luthcrin terms 
which arc also, though in another sense, mysterious and 
obscurcfor having fr()m the very outset arrived a.t the 
grca.t idea of grace peculiar to the llcformcd theology, viz. 
at the " exaltation of religion above morality." I[e was 
the first to ask : " How do I stand with regard to lny God ? " 
and who made the discovery, of which his Commentary on 
Romans is a forcible proof, that it is " man's relation to 
God through faith which creates the purer a.tmosphcre in 
which alone it is possible for morality to thrive." 
arrived, so we are told, at an apl)rchcnsion of grace as 
merciful consideration of the abiding sinner," and a. true 
" consolation of conscience "; hc at the same time rccog- 

niscd grace as an "educative and lnOtl]ding energy," which, 
as such, imparts " strength for sa.nctification. ''a 

To return to the exegetical side of the Commentary on 
Romans, the confusion in which the ideas are presented 
lends to much of it a stamp of great imperfection. There is 
a general lack of cautious, intelligent COlnl)rt,hcnsion of the 
material, which sometimes is concerned with the tenderest 
questions of faith, sometimes with vital points of morals. 
The impartial observer sccs so many traces of passion, 
irritation, storm and stress that hc begins to ask himself 
whether the work has any real theological value. 
The passage, Romans vii. 17, regarding the indwelling of sin in 
man (" habitat in me pectum ") Luther, in the interests of his 
system, makes use of for an attack upon the Scholastics (" nostri 
theologi "). e attributes to them au interpretation of the l)assagc 
which was certainly not theirs, and, from his own interl)retation, 
draws strange and quite unfounded inferences. According to 
the interpretation commonly adnfitted by ahnost all exegetists, 
whether Catholic or Protestant, St. Paul is here speaking of the 
unregenerate man in whom sin dwel, preventing him from 
fulfilling the laxv. Luther, on the contrary, asserts that the 
Apostle is alluding to himself and to the regenerate generally, 
and he quot, from the context no le than twelve proofs that 
this is the correct inrpreta.tion.* Schohties either referred 
the passage, like St.. Augustine, to the righteousiu whom ou 
account of the survival of the "fomes pcati " sin iu some 
sense dwells, even the righteous being easily led away by the same 
to sin--or they left the question open and allowed the vee to 
refe to those who are not justified. 
Luther, delighted by his discovery of the survix-al of original 
sin in man after baptism, could not allow the Ol)l)ortunity to 
slip of dealing a blow at the older theologians : " Is it not a fact 
that the fallacious metaphysics of 'istotle--the 1)hilosol)hy 
which is built u l) on human trationhas blinded our theo- 
logians ? They fancy that sin is destroyed in Baptism and in 
 " Educative " grtee which imparts " strength " is probably what 
we call actual grace, not sanctif) ing grace. Luther nmkcs no distinction 
either  regards the term or the umtter. H dctermiaism, xxith its 
" servum arbitrium,'" left no room for actual grace to perform any real 
work ; this he admits more plainly of the time preceding justification 
titan of that which follows it. Cp. "Schol. Rom.," p. 206 : " Ad primam 
graliam sicut et ad gloriam semper hoe habemus passive sict muller ad 
conceptum," etc. It is here he iutroduces his " mystical " recom- 
mendation, viz. to suffer God's strong grace, and without my ct of 
re,on or will " in. tenebra8 ac veha in perditionem et annihilationem, ire," 
however lmrd that nmy be. Here we find nothing about any "educative 
nd moulding euergy." 
 "" Schol. om.," pp. 170-6. 


false secm'ity." (" Securi stertimus, freti libero arbitrio quod ad 
manure habentes, quando volumus, possumus pie intendere.") 1 
Hero he will only admit that man has freedom to pray for the 
right use of his freedom. But, as a matter of fact, oven this 
liberty which might incite us to prayer, is non-existent. For 
in respect of anything that is good [whether natural or super- 
natural, he makes no distinction] we are only like raw metal or a 
wooden stick. Because God's grace is the hand which works in us 
for good and which performs our vital acts within us, while we 
ourselves are quiescent and absolutely powerless, Luther says 
in Romans iii. : "I have frequently insisted before upon the 
fact, that it is ilnpossible for us to have of ore'selves the will or 
the heart to fulfil the law." Why ? " Because the lav is 
spiritual." Meditation on man's euslaved condition as he 
result of concupiscence, he declares in another passage, proves 
lny contention, no less han the terrible truth of predestination. 
" Lntlmr felt in hilnself that belief in the eternal predestination 
by God [absolute election to grace] was the most powerful 
support of his experience of the eolnplete inadequacy of hmnan 
works and the cflieaey of grace alone." The Protestant theologian  
who says this, to instance Luther's faith in the action of grace, 
here quotes from the passages froln the Colnmentary on Romans, 
according to which God on the one hand bestows His grace only 
on those He chooses, but on the other hand infallibly saves those 
He elects to save. " The Spirit," Luther has it, " supports the 
latter by His presence iu all their weaknesses, so that they 
prevail iu circumstances where they would oherwise despair a 
thousand times. '' It is, however, relnarkable hat just after 
this explanatiol the cry bursts from Luther's lips : " Where are 
now the good works, where the freedom of the will ? " Here tlm 
irresistible " action of grace aloue " al)pears as a direct con- 
sequence of Luther's then views, though he refrains from ex- 
pressing himself lnOre clearly as to the nature of actual grace. 

Thus in his mind are combined two widely divergent 
ideas, viz. that God does everything in nmn who is devoid 
of frccdomand that lllall must draw nigh to God by 
prayer and works of faith. It is a strange 1)sychological 
1)h('lmnmnon to scc how, instead of cndcavouring to solve 
the contradiction and examine the question in the light of 
cahn reason, he gives frcc play to feeling and imagination, 
now passionately proving to the infamous Obscrvants that 
man is absolutely unable to do anything, now insisting on 
the need of preparatiol for grace, i.e. UlmOnsciously be- 
coming the defender of the Church's doctrine of free will 
and human co-operation. The fact is, hc still, to some extent, 

"Schol, Rom.," p. 321.  Braun, " Concupiscenz," p. 34. 
See above, p. 249, n. 1, and p. 204. 

of Christ, the sinfulness of the natural man and his inability 
to do what is good, and likewise predestination to hell in its 
most outrageous form--it is natural to infer that Luther 
had already forsaken the Catholic doctrine on these points 
at the time he was preparing his lectures on the Epistle 
to the Romans, i.e. about the summer of 1515. ]Iis mis- 
apprehension of this Epistle must have had its influence on 
his whole trend, and the elements already at work in his 
mind helped to decide him to commit to writing in his 
Commentary his supposed new and important doctrinal 
We might expect to find in the Commentary the lnOSt 
noticeable progress where he deals with preparation for 
grace, for this was surely the point on which he was bound 
to come into conflict with other doctrines. It is, however, 
bard to tell whether he rcalised the difficulty. It is true 
that much less stress is laid upon preparation for justification 
as the work proceeds, whereas at the eommeneemelt the 
author speaks unhesitatingly of the cultivation of the will 
which must be undertaken in order to bring down grace. 
(See above, p. 214.) This, however, might merely be 
accidental and due to the fact that, in the last chapters, 
St. Paul is dealing mainly with the virtues of the justified. 
Towards the end of the Epistle, in connection with what 
the Apostle says on charity and faith in the righteous, the 
nature of that " lmmilitas " which Luther so eulogises as a 
prelilninary and accompaniment of the appropriation cf 
the righteousness of Christ undergoes a change and appears 
more as faith with charity, or charity with faith. Luther's 
maimer of speaking thus varies according to the subject 
with which Paul is dealing. 
If we take the middle of the year 1515 as the starting- 
point of Luther's new theology, then many of the statements 
in his Commentary on the Psahns, especially in its latter 
part, become more significant as precursors of Luther's 
errors. The favourable view we expressed above of his 
work on the Psalms, as regards its agreement with the 
theology of the Church, was only meant to convey that a 
Catholic interpretation of the questionable passages was 
possible ; this, however, cannot be said of the theses in the 
Commentary on tlomans which we have just been con- 
sidering. We now understand why unwillingness to allow 


the struggle for chastity the little bark is tossed hither and 
thither on the waters, while [according to the gospel] Christ 
is asleep vithin. Rouse Christ so that He may command the 
sea, i.e. the flesh, and the wind, i.e. the devil." 1 In the public 
Indulgence theses of 1517, he is also careful not to express his 
erroneous views on grace and the nature of man. It is character- 
istic of him how he changes even the form of expression when 
repeating an assertion which is also made in the Commentary on 
Romans. In the Commentary he had vritten, that too great 
esteem of outward works led to a too frequent granting of 
Indulgences, and that the Pope and tlie ]3ishops were more cruel 
tlmn cruelty itself if they did not freely grant the same, or even 
greater Indulgences, for God's sake and the good of souls, seeing 
that they themselves had received all they had for nothing.  This 
violent utterance here appears as the expression of his own 
opinion. In the theses, liowever, he presents the same view to 
the public with much greater caution; he says, these and 
similm" objections brought forward by scrupulous laymen, were 
caused, contrm'y to the wishes of the Pope, by dissolute Indulg- 
ence preachers ; one might hear "such-like calumnious chm'ges 
and subtle questions froln seculars," and they must" be taken into 
account and answered." a 

The ideas contained in the Commentary on Rolnans are 
also to bc met with in the other lectures which followed. 
Of this the present writer convinced himself by glancing 
through thc Vatican copies. Thc approaching publication 
of the copies in the '"Anf:ange rcfornmtorischcr Bibelaus- 
lcgung," of Johann Ficker, a work which commenced 
with the Commentary on Romans, will supply further 
details. The character of the Wittenberg Professor is, 
however, such that we may expect some surprising revela- 
tions. Generally speaking, a lnovement in the direction of 
the doctrine of " faith alone " is noticeable throughout his 
In view of Fieker's forthcoming edition it will suffice to 
quote a few excerpts from the Comlnentary on the Epistle 
to the llebrews of 1517, according to the Vatican BIS. 
(Pal. lat. 1825). a They show that the author in his exegesis 
of this Epistle is imbued with the same idea as in the Com- 
mentary on Romans, lmmcly, that Paul cxa.lts (in Luther's 
x ,, Verke," Weim. ed., l, p. 486. 
 " Schol. Rona.," p. 243. 
a Thes., S1 seq., 90. " Opp. Lat. var.," 1, p. 291 seq. Weim. ed., 1, 
pp. 625, 627. 
 Regarding this hiS. see Fieker's Introduction to the Com- 
mentary on Romans, p. xxix. f.- 



1. Luther as Superior of eleven Augustinian Houses 
IIs election as Rural Vicar, which took place at the con- 
vocation of the Order at Gotha (on April 29, 1515), had 
raised Luther to a position of great ilnportance in his 
IIc had, within a short tilnc, risen from being Sub-Prior 
and Regent of thc Wittenberg House of Studies to bc the 
chief dignitary in the Congregation aftcr Staupitz, the Vicar- 
Gcncrah Thc office was conferred on hiln, as was custonmry, 
for a period of three years, i.e. till May, 1518. Of the 
clcvcn monasteries which formed the District the two most 
ilnportant and influential werc Erfurt and Vittenbcrg. 
The others wcre Dresden, IIcrzbcrg, Gotha, Langcnsalza, 
Nordhauscn, Sangershausen, Magdeburg and Neustadt on 
thc Orla, to which Eislcben was added, whcn, in July, 1515, 
Staupitz and Luther presided at thc opening of a ncw 
monastery there. As Staupitz was frequently absent from 
the District, the demauds made on the activity of the new 
Superior were all the greater. 
At this tilnc too his professorial Bible studies and his 
efforts to clear up the confusion and difficultics existing in 
his lnind must have kept hiln fully occupied. In addition 
to this therc was the dissension within thc Order itself on 
the question of observancc and of thc constitution, a dis- 
putc which required for its settlement a lnan filled with 
zeal for the spiritual welfare of the lnonasteries, and one 
thoroughly devoted to the exalted traditional aims of 
the Congregation. 
Thc mordant discourse on the " Little Saints " which 
the fiery Monk delivered on May 1 at the Gotha meeting 

tary to the Elector. :He readily undertook the management 
at Court of the business iu connection with the priories 
under Luther's supervision, and, later on, eoutrived by his 
influeuee in high quarters to promote the spread of the 
religious innovations. 
The letters which Luther wrote as Vicar he signed, as a 
rule, "Frater Martinus Luther," though sometimes "Luder, 
Augustinensis," usually with the additiou " Viearius," and 
on one oeeasiou " Viearius Distrietus," which, ueedless to 
say, does not meau " the strict vicar " as it has been ntis- 
translated, but refers to his offiee as Rural Vicar of the 
In these letters, chiefly in Latin, which Luther addressed 
to his mouastcrics, we meet with some pages containing 
beautiful and inspiring thoughts. There can be no question 
that he knexv how to intervene with euergy where abuses 
called for it, just as he also could Sl)cak words of eousolation, 
eueouragemeut aud kindly admonitiou to those in fault. 
The letters also contain some exhortations, well-worded 
and full of piety, tending to the moral advancement of 
zealous members of the Order. The allusions to faith in 
Christ, our only help, and the absolute iuadequaey of human 
effort, are, however, very frequeut, though he does not here 
express his new theological opinions so definitely as be 
does in expouudiug St. Paul. 
To Johann Lang, vho, s Prior of the Erfttrt house, met with 
ninny difficulties from his subordinates, he wites confforting and 
consoling him : " Be strong and the Lord will be with you ; call 
to mind that you are set up for a sign which shall be contradicted 
(Luke ii. 34), to the one, indeed, a good odottr unto life, to 
another an odottr of death (2 Cor. ii. 16). ''x At Erfttrt, as the 
stone letter shows, he hd to intervene in the interests of discipline. 
In order that no complaints might be brought against the Prior 
by the brethren on account of the expenses for food and drink in 
entertaining guests mad for the keep of those who collected the 
ahns (terminarii) he orders ma exact account to be kept of such 
expenses; the hostel for guests might, lm says, become  real 
dnger to the monastery if not properly regulated ; the monastery 
must not be tttrned into a beer-house or tavern, but must remain 
a religious house. To uphold " the honottr of the Reverend 
Father Vicar," Stupitz, he directed that three conttunacious 
monks should be removed, by way of punishment, from Erfttrt 
to a less important convent. On the occasion of some un- 
pleasantness which Lang experienced from his brother monks, 
x May 29, 1516, " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 37 f. 


stricken. I shall send the brothers away and distribute them 
should the mischief increase; I have been appointed here and 
obedience does not allow of my talcing flight, unless a new order 
be imposed on me to obey. Not as though I do not fear death, 
I am not a Paul but merely an expounder of Paul ; but I trust 
that the Lord will deliver me from my fear." 1 
Vhen a member of the Teutonic Order sought for admission 
into the Augustinian house at Neustadt, Luther instructed the 
Prior there, Michael Dressel (Tornator) to observe very carefully 
the ecclesiastical and conventual regulations provided for such 
a case. " We must, it is true, work with God in the execution of 
this pious project," he writes, " but we shall do this not by 
allowing the ideas of the individual, however pious his intentions 
may be, to decide the matter, but by carrying out the prescribed 
law, the regulations of our predecessors, and the decrees of the 
Fathers : whoever sets these aside need not hope to advance or 
find salvation, however good his will may be."  
This Prior also had complained of the ntmerous contrarieties 
which he experienced from his subordinates, and that he was 
unable to enjoy any peace of soul. Luther says to him among 
other firings :3 ,, The man whom no one troubles is not at peace, 
that is rather the peace of this world, but the man to whom people 
bring all their troubles and who nevertheless remains cahn and 
bears everything that happens with joy. You say with Israel : 
' Peace, peace, and there is no peace ! ' Say rather with Clu'ist : 
the cross, the cross, there is no cross.  The cross will at once 
cease to be a cross when a man accepts it joyfully and says: 
Blessed cross, sacred wood, so holy and venerable! . . . He 
who with readiness embraces the cross in everything that he 
feels, thinks and understands will in time find the fruit of his 
suffering to be sweet peace. That is God's peace, under which our 
thoughts and desires must be hidden in order that they may be 
nailed to the cross, i.e. to the cross of contradiction and oppression. 
Thus is peace truly established above all our thinng and 
desiring, and becomes the most precious jewel. Therefore take 
up all these disturbances of your peace with joy and clasp them 
to you as holy relics, instead of endeavouring to seek peace 
according to your own ideas." 
When Luther afterwards visited the monastery of this same 
Prior, on the occasion of an official visitation, he found the 
community estranged from its head. He did not at that time 
take any steps, but after a few weeks he suddenly removed 
Michael Dressel from his office. In confidence he informed 
Johann Lang, rather cryptically, that: "I did this because I 
hoped to rule there myself for the half-year." Do the words 

1 "Briefwechsel," 1. p. 68.  Jtme 22, 1516, ibid., p. 42.  Ibid., p. 43. 
 Cp. Luther's Indulgence theses, 92 and 93, where " pax, pax,' 
and "crux, crux" are repeated in the same way. "Opp. Lat. var.," 1, 
p. 291. " Werke," Weim. ed., 1, p. 628. 
 October 26, 1516, " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 68: " eci ideo, quod 
sperabam, me ipsum illic ad medium annum regnaturum." 


perhaps mean that he was anxious to secure a victory for that 
party in the Order which was devoted to himself and opposed to 
Dressel, who on this hypothesis vas an Observantine ? tIis 
action was peculiar from the fact that his letter addressed to the 
conmaunity at Neustadt and to Dressel hinself gave no reason 
for the measure against the Prior other than that the brothers 
were unable to live with hiln in peace and agreement; the Prior, 
he says, had always had the best intentions, but it is not enough 
for a Superior to be good and pious, "it is also necessary that the 
others should be at peace and in agreement with him " ; when a 
Superior's measures fail to establish concord, then he should 
revoke them. 1 Still more unusual than such advice was the 
circmnstance that Luther would not allov the Prior to nmke any 
defence, and cut short any excuses by his sudden action. In 
another letter to the monks he justified his measure simply by 
stating that there vas no peace. In short, the rebellious monks 
speedily got the better of the Superior whom they disliked. The 
ex-Prior, Luther tells him, must on no account mtu'nur because 
he has been judged without a hearing (" quia te non auditum 
htdicaverim"); he hilnself (Luther) was convinced of his good 
will and also hoped that all the imnates of the convent wcre 
grateful to hiln for the good intentions which he had displayed. 
In the new election ordered by the Rural Vicar, Heinrich Zwetze 
vas chosen as Prior. Of the latter or hov the matter ended 
nothing more is known. 

The office of Rural Vicar required above all, that, when 
nmking his regular visitation of the religious houses, the 
Vicar should have a personal iutcrvicw with each brother, 
hear what hc had to say, and give him any spiritual direction 
of which he might stand iu need. Wc learn the following 
of a visitation of tiffs kind which Luther made in 1516: 
At the Gotlm monastery the whole of the visitation occupied 
only one hour; at Langcnsalza two hours. Hc informs 
Lang : " In these places the Lord will work without us and 
direct the spiritual and temporal affairs in spite of the devil." u 
He at once proceeded on the same journey to the house 
at Nordhauscn and then on to those at Eislcbcn aud Magde- 
burg. In two days the Rural Vicar was back in his beloved 
Wittenberg. There is no doubt that such summary treat- 
ment of his most important duties was not favourablc to 
At Leitzkau the Augustinians possessed rights over the 
large fisheries and Luther was intimate with the local 
Cistercian Provost. When the Provost, George 5lasko', 
1 September 25, 1516, "t3riefwechsel," 1, p. 51. 
z May 29, 1516, ibid., p. 38. 

asked him how hc should behave towards a brother nonk 
who had silmcd grievously, seeing that he himself was a still 
greater offender, Luther replied, saying, among other things, 
that hc ought certainly to punish hiln, for, as a rule, it was 
necessary to cxcrcise discipline towards those who are 
better than ourselves. " We are all children of Admn, 
therefore wc do the works of Adam." But " our authority 
is not ore's, but God's." Perhaps God desired to help 
that brother on the road of sin, namely, through shame. 
" It is God Who does all this. '' And in another letter he 
says to the Provost :" " If many of your subjccts arc on the 
way to moral ruin, yet you must not for that reason disquiet 
them all. It is better quietly to save a few .... Let 
thc cockcl grow together with the wheat . . . for it is 
better to bear with the many for the sake of thc few than 
to ruin thc few on account of the many." In a mystical 
vein hc says: " Pray for me, for my life is daily drawing 
nearer to hell (i.e. the lower world, ' inferno appropinquavit," 
Ps. lxxxvii. 4), as I also bcc0me worse and more wretched 
day by day. ''a 
Bodily infirmities wcrc then pressing hard upon him in 
consequence of his many labours and spiritual trials, while 
much of his time was swallowed up by his lectures which 
wcrc still iu progress. 

2. The Monk of Liberal Views and Independent Action 

With regard to his own life as a religious and his con- 
eeption of his calling Luther was, at the tilne of the crisis, 
still far removed from the position which he took up later, 
though we find already in the Commentary on Romans 
views which eventually could not fail to place him in oppo- 
sition to the religious state. 
What still bound him to the religious life was, above all, 
the ideal of humility, which his mystical ideas had developed. 
He also reeognised fully the binding nature of his vows. 
According to him man cannot steep himself sufficiently in 

 May 17, 1517, " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 99. 
 Undated (1516 ?), ibid., p. 77. 
 From the latter months of 151.6, ibid., p. 76 : " Confiteor tibi, quod 
vita mea in dies appropinquat inferw, quia quotidie peior rio et 


his essential nothingucss before the Et.crnal God, and vows 
are an expression of such submission to the Supreme Being. 
" To love is to hate and condenm oneself, yea even to wish 
evil to oneself." " Our good is hidden so deeply that it is con- 
eealed under its opposite; thus life is hidden under death, real 
egotism under hatred of self, honom" under shame, salvation 
under destruction, a kingdom under exile, heaven under hell, 
wisdom under foolishness, righteousness under sin, strength 
under weakness; indeed all ore" afl3a'mation of any good is 
concealed under its negation in order that faith in God, Who is 
the negation of all, may remain supreme . . . thus 'our life is 
hidden with Christ in God ' (Col. iii. 3), i.e. in the negation of all 
that can be felt, possessed and apprehended .... That is the 
good which we must desire for ourselves," he says to his brother 
monks, " then only are we good when we reeognise the good God 
and our evil self. '' 
lie says elsewhere regarding vows : " All things are. it is true, 
free to us, but by means of vows we can offer them all up out of 
love ; xvhen this has once taken place, then they are necessary, 
not by their nature but on account of the vow which has been 
taken voluntarily. Then we nmst be careful to kee l) the vows 
with the same love with which we took t.hcna upon us, otherwise 
they are not kept at all."  In many points he goes further than 
the Rule itself in the mystical demands he makes upon the 
members of the Order. 

In other respects Luther's rcquirclncnts not only fall 
far short of what is necessary, but even the ordinary lnonastie 
duties fare badly at his hands. If it is the interior word which 
is to guide the various actions, and if without the " spirit " 
they are nothing, indeed would be better left undone, then 
what place is left to the common observance of the monastic 
Rule and the mmaerous pious practices, 1)rayers and acts 
of virtue to which a regular time and place are assigned ? 
From the standpoint of his pseudo-mystical perfection 
he eritieises with acerbity the recitation of the Office in 
Choir ; also the " unreasonableness and superstition of 
pious founders of benefices," who, as it were, " desired to 
purchase prayers " at certain fixed times. Founders of a 
monastery ought not to have prescribed the recitation of 
the Olce in Choir on their behalf; by so doing they 
wished to secure their own salvation and well-being before 
God, instead of making their offerings purely for God's 
sake. a Such remarks plainly show that hc was already far 
x " Schol. Rom.," p. 219 f. - Ibid., p. 317. 
 Ibid., p. 291. 


Teachers of Tauler's stamp inculcated on monks and laymen 
alike the highest esteem for small and insignificant tasks when 
performed in compliance with obedience to the duties of one's state, 
whatever it might be. It was unfair to the religious life and at 
the same time to true Christian mysticism when Luther at a later 
date, after his estrangement from the Order, in emphasising the 
works which 1)leas God in the secular life, saw fit to speak as 
though this view had hitherto been unknown. 
Tauler had smmned up the doctrine ah-eady well known in 
earlier ages in the beautiful words: " When the most trivial 
work is performed in real and simple obedience, such a work of 
an obedient man is nobler and better and more pleasing to God 
and is more profitable and meritorious than all the great works 
which he may do here below of his own choice."  Every artisan 
and peasant is able, according to Tauler, to serve God in perfect 
love in his humble calling ; he need not neglect his work to tread 
the paths of sublime charity and lofty prayer. The mystic 
illustrates this also by a little anecdote : " I know one who is a 
very great friend of God and who has been all his days a farm- 
]abom'er, for more than two score years. He once sked our Lord 
whether he should leave his calling and go and sit in the churches. 
]ut the Lord said No, and that he was to earn his bread with the 
sweat of his brow and thus honour His true and noble ]lood. 
Every man nmst choose some suitable time by day or by night 
dm'ing which he may go to the root of things, each one as best 
he can."  

Luther, during the time of his crisis, was not only a monk 
of dangerously wide views, but he was also inelincd to take 
liherties in practice. 
There is a great dearth of information with regard to the 
way in which Luther practised at that time the virtues of 
the religious life, and from his own statements we do not 
learn much. tie complains, in 1516, to his friend Leiffer, 
the Erfurt Augustiuian : "I mn sure and know from my 
own experience, from yours too, and, in fact, from the 
general experience of all whom I have seen troubled, that 
it is merely the false wisdom of our own ideas which is the 
origin and root of our disquietude. For our eye is evil, 
and, to speak only of myself, into what painful misery has 
it brought me and still eoutinues to bring me. '' 
Luther, whose capacity for work was enormous, flung 
himself into the employments which pressed upon him. 
lie reserved little time for self-examination and for culti- 
vating his spiritual life. Iu addition to his lectures, his 
 Braun, " Concupiscenz," p. 283.  Ibid. 
: April 15, 1516, " Briefwechscl," 1, p. 3I. 

Breviary, was enjoined as a most serious duty not merely 
by the laws of the Church, but also by the constitutions of 
thc Augustine Congregation. Tile latter declared that no 
excuse could bc alleged for thc omission, and that whoever 
neglected thc canonical Itours was to be considered as a 
schismatic. It is incomprehensible how Luther could 
dispense himself from both these obligations by alleging 
his want of time, as, according to his Rule, sl)iritual exercises 
especially in the case of a Sul)crior, took 1)rcecdcnce of all 
other duties, and it was for him to give an exanll)lc to others 
in the punctual 1)crformance of the same. 
Thcrc was 1)robably another reason for his omitting to 
celebrate Mass. 
[lie felt a rcl)ugnanec for the IIoly Sacrifice, perhaps on 
account of his frc(lucnt fits of anxiety. IIc says, at a later 
date, that he never took pleasure in saying Mass when a 
lllonk; this statement, however, eamlot be taken to ill- 
elude the very earliest 1)criod of his priestly life, when the 
good cl'fccts of his novitiate were still apparent, for one 
reason ])ccausc this would not agree with the enthusiasm 
of his letter of invitation to his first Mass. 

Religious services generally, he says in 1515-16 to the young 
monks, with a boldness which he takes little pains to conceal, 
" are iu fact to-day more a hindrance than a hell)" to true piety. 
Speaking of the manner of their performance he says with mani- 
fest exaggeration, that it is such as to be no longer prayer. " "Ve 
only iusult God more when ve recite them .... "Ve acquire 
a false security of conscience as though we had really prayed, 
and that is a terrible danger ! '' Then he goes on to explain 
" Ahnost all follow their calling at the present day with distaste 
and without love, and those who are zealous place their trust 
in it aud merely crucify their conscience." He speaks of the 
" superstitious exercises of piety " which are performed from 
gross ignorauce, and sets up as the ideal, that each one should be 
at liberty to decide what he will undertake in the way of priestly 
or monastic observances, mnong which he enumerates expressly 
" celibacy, the tonsure, the habit and the recitation of the 
Brevim'y."  We see from this that he was not nmch attached 
even to the actual obligations of his profession, and we may 
fairly surmise that such a disposition had not come upon him 
suddenly; these were rather the moral accompaniments of the 
change iu his theological views and really date from an earlier 
period. We can also recogmise in them the practical results of 
his strong opl)osition to the Observantines of the Order, which 

x ,, Schol.," p. 288.  Ibid., pp. 319, 320. 

he dispensed himself from the Breviary may contain some truth ; 
all the facts point t.o the violent though confused st.rugglo going 
ou in the young Monk's miud. 
Yet Luther speaks ably enough in 1517 of the urgent necessity 
of spiritual exercises, more particulm'ly mcditat.ion on the 
Scripttu'es, to which the recitation of the Oitlce in Choir was an 
int.roductiou : " As we are attacked by countless distractions 
from wit.hour., impeded by cares and engrcssed by business, and 
all this leads us away fi'om pm'ity of heart, only one remedy 
remains for us, viz. with great zeal to 'exhort each other' 
(Heb. iii. 13), rouse our shtmbering spirig by the IVord of 
reading t.he stone continually, and hearing it as the Apostle 
exhorts." Not long after he is, however, compelled to write: 
"I know right well that I do not live in accordance with my 
The exertions which his feverish activity entailed avenged 
themselves on his health, lie became s) thin that one could 
cunt his ribs, as the saying is. IIis incessant inward. 
anxieties also did their part in undermining his con- 
The outward appearance of the Monk was specially 
remarkable on account of the brilliancy of his deep-set 
eyes, to which Pollich, his professor at the University of 
Wittenberg, had already drawn attention (p. 86). The 
iml)rcssion which this remarkable look, which a.lwavs 
remained with him, made on others, was very varied. IIis 
subsequent friends and followers found in his eyes something 
grand and noble, something of the eagle, while, on the other 
hand, some remarks made by his opl)onents on the uncanny 
effect of his magic glance will be mentioned later. Anger 
intensified this look, and the strange 1)ower which Luther 
exerted over those who opposed him, drew ninny under the 
spell of his influence and worked upon them like a kind of 
Many remarked with concern on the youthful Luther's 
too great self-sueienev. 
liis then pupil Johann Oldceop describes him as " a man 
of sense," but " proud by nature." " He began to be still 
more haughty," Oldeeop observes, when speaking of the 
1 ,, Scio qd not vivo qu doceo." To Bishop Adolf of 5Ierseburg, 
Febnmry 4, 1520, " Briefwechsel," 2, p. 312. 
 5Ielmachthon said on one occasion, according to Waltz (see above, 
p. 278, n. 2), p. 326 : "Leo habet oculos Xapoo6 (bright-eyed), Lutheri 
oeuli sant apool, et habebant leonem it ascendente (probably " babe- 
bat," viz. Luther in his Horoscope). Et talcs plertmqae sunt ingeniosi . . 
They were brovn_eyes, " circit circuh 9ilvas." 

tile flesh "; lay attthoritics, moreover, who now begin to 
see through OUl" wickedness, ought to seize upon the tem- 
poralities of the Church in order that she nmy be set free 
to devote herself entirely to the interior Christian life. 
Luther's view of the position a, nd actual character of the 
worldly powers at that time was al)solutcly untrue to life, 
and one that couhl have been cherished only by a mystic 
looking out on the world from tile narrow walls of his cell. 
A strange sclf-sullicicncy, of which he himself appears to 
have bccn utterly unaware, and which is therefore all the 
more curious, was at the root of these ideas. 
Such a tone unmistakably pervades the projects of reform 
expressed not only in the Commentary on Ronmns, but 
also in his cxposili(m ()f the Psalms; but a COml)arison of 
these two works shows the increased stress which Luther 
lays Ul)On his own opin.iou in the later work, and the still 
greater inconsideration with which hc rejects everything 
which clashes with his views, a fact which proves that Luther 
was progressing. In his Commentary on Romans he a,ppeals 
formally to the " apostolic authority " of his Doctor's 
degree, when giving vent to the most unheard-of vitupera- 
tion of tile highest powers, ecclesiastical and lax'. 
declares it to be his duty to reprove what he finds amiss ill 
all, and ahnost at the same naoment denounces the bishops 
who defend the rights of the Church as "Pharaonici, Sathan.- 
ici, Behemotici "; so convinced is he that their supposed 
abuse of power entitles him to reprove them.  
The language in which the mystic unhesitatingly passes 
the severest possible judglnents could scarcely be stronger. 
" We have fallen under a Jewish bondage . . . ore" preachers 
have concealed from the people the truth regarding the right 
way of worslfipping God, and the Apostles must needs come again 
to preach to us."" 
" When shall we at last listen to reason," he cries, a " and 
understand that we nmst spend otu" valuable time more profitably 
[tlmn in the study of philosol)hy ] ? 'Ve are ignorant of what is 
necessary,' thus we should complain with Seneca, 'because we 
merely learn what is superfluous.' Ve renmin ignorant of wlmt 
might be of use to us while we busy ourselves wit.h wlmt is worse 
x - Sehol. 1Rom.," p. 301. 
e Ibid., 19. 317 : " 2Vunc omnes fete desipiunt (this is about the 
Chm'eh's fasts) . . . ut rursum (7oopulus) apostolis indigeat ipsis, ut 
veram disceret pietatem." 
a Ibid., p. 199. 


statement: " Righteousness must, indeed, be sought by works, 
but these are not the -orks of the law because they are performed 
by grace and in faith." 1 
He goes on to mention four classes of men who are led away 
by the devil in their esteem al)d practice of -orks.  The first 
he ch'aws away from all good works and entangles in manifest 
sin. The second, who think themselves righteous, he makes 
tepid and careless. The third, also righteous in their own eyes, 
hc renders over-zealous and superstitious, so that they set them- 
selves up as a class alart and despise others ; they have been 
mentioned over and over agai in the above pages, in recounting 
his warfare with the Observants, the " Spirituals," the proud 
self-right.eous, etc. 
The fourth and last class might possibly include himself. 
" The fourth class consists of those who, at the instigation of 
the devil, desire to be free from any sin, pure and holy. But as 
they, nevertheless, feel that they conunit sin and that all they 
do is tainted with evil, the devil terrifies them to such an extent. 
xvith fear of the judgments of God and scruples of cons'ience that 
they almost despai,.'. He is acquainted with each one's disposition 
and tempts him accordingly. As they are zealous in the pursuit 
of righteousness the devil is unable to turn them aside from it so 
readily. Therefore he sets himself to fill them with enthusiasm, 
so that they wish to free themselves too speedily from all trace 
of concupiscence. This they are unable to do, and consequently 
he succeeds in making them sad, downcast and faint-hearted, 
yea, even in causing them unendurable anxiety of conscience 
and despair." 
When prescribing the remedy, he begins to use the first person 
phu'al. " Therefore there is nothing for us to do but to make 
the best of things and to remain in sin. We must sigh to be set 
free, hoping in God's mercy. Vhen a man desires to be cttred 
he may, if in too great, a hurry, have a worse relapse. His cure 
can only take place slowly and many 'eaknesses must. be borne 
with during convalescence. It, is enough that sin be displeasing, 
though it cannot be altogether expelled. For Christ bears every- 
thing, if only it is displeasing to us ; His are the sins not ore's, 
and, here below, His righteousness is our property." 
Vc may take that l)ortion of thc description where the 
first person is used as an account of his own state. IIcrc he 
is describing his own 1)ractice. This 1)assagc, which in 
itself admits of a good intcrl)rctation and might bc made use 
of by a Catholic ascetic, must be read in connection with 
Luther's doctrine that concupiscence is sin. Looking at it 
in this light, the sense in which he understands disl)lcasm'e 
with sin becomes clear, also why, in view of the ineradicable 
nature of concul)isccnce, he is willing to console himself 
1 " Schol. 1Rom.," p. 100. "- Ibid., p. 102. 

with the idea that " Christ bears it all." His dislike of 
coucupisccncc is entirely different from contrition for sin. 
The young Monk frequently felt himself oppressed by an 
aversion for concupiscence, but of contrition for sil he 
scarcely cvcr speaks, or only ill such a way as to raise serious 
doubts with regard to his idea of it. and the manner in which 
lie personally manifested it, as the passages about to be 
quoted will show. The practice of lnaking Christ's rightcotls- 
hess our own, saying, " IIis arc tile sins," etc., he does not 
recommend merely ill the case of concupiscence, but also 
in that of actual sins ; it should, however, bc noted that the 
latter may quite well be disl)lcasilg to us without there 
bciug any contrition in the theological sense, 1)articularly 
without there being perfect contrition. 
Luther is here describing the remedy which he himself 
apl)lies iu place of real penance, wholesome contriti(m and 
coral)unction. It is to replace all the good resolutions 
which strengthen and fortify the will, and all penitential 
works done in satisfaction for the guilt of sin, and tiffs 
remedy lie begins to recommend to others. 
lIis contempt for good works, for zeal in the religious life 
and for auy efforts at overcoming self encourage him in 
these views. I-Iis new ideas as to ma.n's ilm.bilitv to do any- 
thing that is good. as to his want of free will to fight a.gailst 
concnl)isccnce and tile sovereign efficacy of grace and 
absolute predestination, all incline him to the easy road of 
iml)utation; filmily, he caps his syseln by perstmding 
himself that ouly by his nexv discoveries, which, moreover, 
arc borne out by St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, can 
Christ receive the honour which is I-Iis due and His Gospel 
come into its rights. Such was Luther's train of thought. 
The characteristic position which Luther assulncd in his 
early days with regard to penance and the motive of fear, 
must bc more closely cxamiucd in order to complete the 
above account. 
The Monk frankly admits, not oucc but often, that 
inward contrition for sin was somcthin foreign, almost 
unknown, to him. The statements hc makes concernilg his 
confessions weigh heavily in the sc,Ic when wc come to 
cm.idcr the question of his spiritual life. 
In a pas.age of his Commentary on the Psahns where he would 
in the ordina.ry course have been obliged to speak of contrition 

mands, " whether it. be foolish or evil or great or small. ''1 
Thus the way is already paved for his mysterious compre- 
hension of the Scriptures through the inner word, as his 
letter to S1)alatin shows ; we htve also here the beginning 
of what he supposed was the ratification (,f his Divine 
mission as proclaimer of the new teaching. 
Even before much was known of the data furnished by 
the Commentary on llomans regarding Luther's develop- 
ment, Ft. Loofs, on the strength of the fragncnts which 
Deniflc had made public, ventured to predict that, on the 
publication of the whole work, it would be seen, " that Luther 
was at that time following a road which might justly be 
described as a peculiar form of quietistie mysticism. '' 
To-day we must go further and say that Luther's whole 
character was steeped in ultra-spiritualism. 
Johann Adam M6hler says of Luther's public work as 
a teacher : " In his theological views he showed himself a 
one-sided mystic. ''a lie adds, " had he lived in the second 
century Luther would have been a gnostic like Mareion, 
with some of whose peculiarities he is in singular agreement," 
a statement which is borne out by what we have seen of 
Luther's work so far. Neander, the Protestant historian, 
also compares the growth and development of Luther's 
mind with that of Mareion.  Neander looks Ul)On Mareion 
as Luther's spiritual comrade, in fact as a Protestant, 
because he, like the founder of Protestantism, emphasised 
the evil in man everywhere, set up an antagonism between 
righteousness and grace, between the law and the gospel, 
and preached freedom from the works of the law. This 
Mareion did by appealing to the gnosis, or deeper knowledge. 
Luther likewise bases his very first utterances on this 
teaching and appeals to the more profound theology; he 
possesses that seductive enthusiasm which Mareion also 
displayed at the commencement of his career. Soon we 
shall see that Luther, again like Mareion, brushed aside 
such books of the Bible as stood in his way; the canon of 
Holy Scril)ture must be brought into agreement with his 
special conception of doctrine, and he and his lmpils amplified 
and altered this doctrine, even in its fundamentals, to such 
 See above, p. 95. - See below, p. 323. 
 " Deutseh-evangelisehe ]31tter," 32, 1907. p. 537. 
a " Kirehengeseh.," ed. by P. Gmns, 3, 1868, p. 106. 
 " Kirehengeseh.," 1, p. 782. 


a degree, that the svords which Tertullian apl)licd to Mareion 
might quite fit Luther too: " mm ct quotidie rcformant 
illud," i.e. their gosl)el. 1 Luther at the very outset obscured 
the conception of God by his doctrine of absolute 1)rcdestina - 
tion to hell. Marcion, it is true, went much further than 
Luther in obfuscating the Christian teaching with rcga.rd 
to God by setting up an eternal twofold prineil)le , of good 
and evil. The ]Vittcnbcrg Professor never dreamt of so 
radical a change in the doctrine respecting God, and in 
coral)arisen with that of Marcion this part of his system is 
quite conservative. 
Wc find in Luther, from the beginning of his career, 
together with his rather gloomy ultra-spiritualism, ,nothcr 
characteristic embracing a mmber of heterogeneous quali- 
ties, and which we can only describe as grotesque. Side by 
side with his love of extremes, wc find an ultra-couservative 
regard for the text of ]Ioly Seril)ture as lie understood it, 
no matter how allegorical his pet intcrl)retation might be. 
Again, the pious mysticism of his language scarcely a.grccs 
with the practical disregard hc manifested for his profession. 
To this must be added, on the one hand, his tendency to 
spring from one subject to another, ad the restlessness 
which permeates his theological statements, and on the 
other, his ponderous Scholasticism. Again we have the 
digressions iu xvhieh he declaims on public events, and, 
besides, his incorrect and unchal'itablc criticisms; here 
lie displays his utter want cf consideration, his ignorance 
of the world and finally a tempestuous 1)assion for freedom 
in all things, which renders him ,ltogcthcr callous to the 
vindication of their rights by others and makes him sigh 
over the countless "fetters of men. '' All this, takeu in con- 
ncetion with his unusual talent, shows that Luther, though 
a real genius and a man of originality, was inclined to be 
hysterical. IIow curiously paradoxical his character was 
is re'ealcd in his cxa.ggcrated manner of spcceh and his 
incessant recourse to antithesis. 
With an unbomidcd confidence in himself and all too 
well aware of the seduction exercised by his splendid talents, 
he yet does not scruple to warn others with the utmost 
 " Adverstls Mrcion.," 4, e. 5. 
o. ,, Werke," Weim. ed., 2, p. 576 : In the " 'reched study of right 
nd law " we find everywhere he confortless feers of precepts. 
" 0 reptilia," he cries, " oro to eat humerus ! " 


seriousness ,against their " inclinations to arrogance, avarice 
and ambitiou," and to represent pride as the cardinal sin. 1 
lie is keen to notice defects iu earlier theologians, but an 
unhappy trait of his own blinds him to the fact that the 
Church, as the invincible guardiau of truth, must soon rise 
u l) agaiust him. 
I{c has already discovered a new way of salvation which 
is to tranquilise all, aud yet he will be counted, not among 
those who fecl sure of their salvation, but among the pious 
who arc anxious and troubled about their state of grace, 
" who arc still in fear lest they fall into wickedness, and, 
therefore, through fear, become more and more deeply 
steeped iu humility in doiug which they render God gracious 
to them. '' The assurance of salvation by faith alone, the 
sola tides of a later date, he still protests against so 
vigorously, that, when hc fancies he espies it in his oppo- 
nents in any shape or form, he attacks them as "a pestilential 
crew," who speak of the signs of grace and thereby, as he 
inmgincs, lull mcu into security. 
The last words show that the process of development is 
not yet ended. What we have considered above was merely 
the first of the two stages which hc traversed before finally 
arriving at the couception of his chief doctrine, a 

I Cp. Braun, " Coneupiscenz," p. 22. 
-"," Schol. Rom.," p. 323. 
For the second stage, see oh. x. 1-2. 



1. "The Commencement of the Gospel Business." Exposition 
of the Epistle to the Galatians (1516-17) 
LUTIU.:r,'S friends and admirers were at a later date loud 
in their pra.ise of the lectures on the Epistle to the lloma.ns 
and on tlmt to the Galatians which he commenced imme- 
diately after, a.nd looked upon these as marking the dawn 
of a new epoch in theology. Luther himself, with more 
accuracy, designated the tirst disputations, of which we 
shall come to speak presently, as the "commencement of 
the gospel business." 
Melanehthon in his short sketch of Luther's life speaks pomp- 
ously of these lectures and manifests his entire unacquaintance 
with the old Church mad the truths for whieh she stood. 
" In the opinion of the wise and pious the light of the new 
teaching first broke forth, after  long and dark night, in the 
Commentary on these Epistles. There Luther pointed out the 
true distinction between the law and the gospel; there he 
refuted the Phm'isaical errors which then ruled in the schools and 
in the pulpits, nmnely, that man was able to obtain forgiveness 
of sin by his own efforts and could be justified before God by the 
performance of outward wor. He brought back souls to the 
Son of God, he pointed to the Lamb, XXqao bore the guilt of our 
sins. He demonstrated that sin was forgiven for the sake of the 
Son of God and that sueh a favom" ought to be accepted in faith. 
He also shed a D'eat hght on the other articles of faith."x 
Mathesius, Luther's pupil and eulogist, in his sermons on 
Luther, points out, in the following passionate words, the im- 
portance of the lectm'es and disputations held by his master: 
" Dr. Luther in all his lectes aud disputations chiefly treats of 
this question and artiele, whether the true faith by which we are 
to live a Christian life and cHe a happy death is to be learned 
from Holy Scripttu'e or from the godless heathen Aristotle, on 
whom the Doctors of the Schools attempted to base the doctrine 
of the Romish Chtu-eh and of the monks." " This is the chief 

 " Vita Lutheri," p. 6. 



referring to this Epistle, or of the fact that his exposition of 
it runs counter to the whole of tradition. 
Luther ever had the highest opiniou of the Epistle to the and of his own Commentaries on it. At a later 
date he says jokingly : " Epistola ad Galalas is my Epistle 
to which I have plighted my troth; my own Katey yon 
llora." Melanchthon praises Luther's Commentary on 
Galatians in a more serious fashion and says, it was in truth 
" the coil of Theseus by the aid of which we are enabled to 
wander through the labvrinth of biblical learning. '' 
Besides the shorter Commentary on Galatians published 
in 1519 there is also a nmeh longer one compiled from notes 
of Luther's later lectures, made public in 1535 by his pupil 
lliirer, together with a Preface by Luther hilnself, a Pro- 
testants eonsider it as " the most important literary product 
of his aeademie career " aud. in fact, as " the most important 
of his theological works. ''a Iu what follows we shall rely, 
as we said before, on the sourees which afford the most 
accurate 1)ieture of his views, i.e. on both the shorter and 
the longer redaetion of his Commentary on Galatians, 
especially where the latter repeats in still more forcible 
language views already contained in the former. 
It is well to know that, iu his expositions of the Epistle 
to the Galatiaus, Luther's autagonism to the Catholic 
doctrine of Works, Justificatiou and Original Siu is carried 
further thau in any other of his exegetical writings, until, 
indeed, it verges on the paradoxical. Nowhere else does the 
author so unhesitatingly read his own ideas into IIoly 
Scripture, or turn his back so eompletcly on the most 
venerable traditions of the Church. 

For instance, he shows how God by I-Iis grace was obliged to 
renew, from the root upwards, the tree of htman nature, which 
had fallen and become rotten to the core, in order that it might 
bear fruit which was not mere poison and sin and such as to 
render it worthy to be cast into hell fire. Everything is lnade to 
depend upon that terrible doctrine of Divine Predestination, 
which inexorably condenms a portion of mankind to hell. It never 
occurred to him that this doctrine of a Predestination to hell was 
in conflict with God's goodness and mercy, at least, he never had 
the least hesitation in advocating it. The only preparation for 
 " Verke," Weim. ed., 2, p. 437. 
 See K6stlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 275. 
a In Irmischer's Erl. edition, printed in three volumes. 
 Cp. KOstlin-Kawerau, 2, p. 300 f. 


the least solving the difflculty. 1 He declares that we must 
risk, try, and exercise assurance. This, however, merely 
depends upon a self-acquired dexterity, 2 upon human ability, 
vhich, moreover, frequently leaves even the strongest in the 
lurch, as ve shall see later from Luther's own example and that 
of his followers. 
He goes so far iu speaking of faith and grace in the larger 
Commentary on Galatians, as to brand the most sublime and 
holy works, namely, prayer and meditation, as " idolatry " 
unless performed in accordance with the only true principle of 
faith, viz. with his doctrine regarding justification by faith alone. 
This can be more readily understood when ve consider that 
according to him, man, in spite of his resistance to concupiscence, 
is, nevertheless, on account of the same, guilty of the sins of 
avarice, anger, impurity, a list to which he significantly adds " et 
cetera," 3 
He had expressed himself in a similar xvay in the shorter 
Commentary, but did not think his expressions in that book 
strong enough adequately to represent his ideas.  
As he constantly connects his statements with vhat he loo-ks 
upon as the main contentions of St. Paul in the Epistles to the 
Romans and the Galatians, we may briefly remind our readers 
of the interpretation which the older theology had ever placed 
upon them. 
The Apostle Paul teaches, according to the Fathers and the 
greatest theologians of the Middle Ages, that both Jews and 
heathen might attain to salvation and life by faith. He proves 
this by showing that the heathen vere not saved by the works 
of nature, nor the Jews by the works of the Mosaic Law ; but he 
does not by any means exclude works altogether as unnecessary 
for justification. In the important passage of the Epistle to the 
Romans (Rom. i. 17) where Paul quotes the words of Habacuc : 
" The just man liveth by faith," there was no call to define more 
clearly the nature of justifying faith, or to explain to what extent 
it must be a living faith showing itself in works in charity and 
in hope. To exclude xvorks from faith, as Luther assunes him to 
do, was very far from his intention in that passage. Nor is this 
idea involved in the saying which Luther so frequently quotes 
(Rom. iii. 28): " We account a man to be justified by faith 
without the works of the law," for here he merely excludes the 
works " of the law," i.e. according to the context such works as 
do not rest on faith but precede faith, whether the purely out- 
xvard works of the Mosaic ceremonial law, or other natural works 
done apart from, or before, Christ. We shall speak later of 
Luther's interpolation in this passage of the word " alone " after 
" faith " in his translation of the Bible (see vol. v., xxxiv. 3). 
Vhen St. Paul elsewhere describes more narrowly the nature 
 Cp. Denifle-Weiss, 1, p. 733, where a thorough examination is made 
of the certainty of salvation assumed in t.his system. 
 Ibid., p. 735. a Cp. M6hler, p. 139. 
 K6stlin-Kawerau. 1, p. 275. 

side. Amsdorf sent a copy of the theses to Erfurt in 
order to elicit the opinion of the professors there. But, 
fcariug lest the storm he foresaw might bc directed against 
Luther, hc deleted the sul)crscription bearing his name 
(" Sb eximio viro lartio Lutlero .4gstiaiao," etc.). 
At thc Disl)utatiou Luther presided, a fact which is all the 
more significant vhcn wc remember that hc was not at that 
time Dean. 
[.Among the theses to bc debated one runs as follows: 
Man is absolutely unablc by his own unaided efforts to keep 
the commandments of God ; hc merely seeks his own, and 
what is of the flesh; hc himself is " vanity of vanities" 
and makes creatures, who in themselves arc good. also to 
bc vain ; hc is necessarily under thc dominion of sil, " hc 
sins cvcn vheu doing the best hc can ; for of himself hc is 
unable either to will or to think. '' 
It is not surprising that theses such as this agaiu roused 
the antagonism of the followers of thc old theology. Some 
of Luther's former colleagues among the Erfurt monks con- 
sidcred thcmscl'es directly chalIcnged. Trutfcttcr and Usin- 
gen, tvo esteemed professors at Erfurt, having dared to point 
out the difference between these theses and the Catholic 
teaching as expressed in the works of Gabriel Biel, Luther 
vrotc to theil- Superior, Johanu Lang: " Let them alone, 
let your Gabrielists marvel at my 'position' (i.e. at the 
theses), for mine too (i.e. Biel's Catholic-nfiuded supporters 
a.t Wittenberg) still continue to be astonished." " Master 
Amsdorf formerly belonged to them. but. is now half con- 
crtcd." " But I won't have them disputing with mc as to 
whether Gabriel said this. or Rq)hacl or Michael said that. 
I knov what Gabriel teaches ; it is commendable so long 
as hc does not begin speaking of Grace, Charity, 
Faith and Virtue, for then hc becomes a Pclagian, like 
Scotus, his master. But it is not necessary for mc to speak 
further on this matter here. '' 
In the same letter hc deals somc vigorous blows at Gratian 
and the highly esteemed Peter Lombard ; according to him 
they have made of the doctrine of penance a torment rather 
than a remedy ; they took their matter from the treatise 
" On True and False Penance," attributed to St. Angustinc ; 
 " XVerke," ,Veim. ed., 1, p. 145 ff. 
 Letter of 1516, probably September, " Briefwechsel," 1, po 55. 

doctrine. ''1 That itwas an open chal!cnge admits of no doubt. 
Reticence and hulnility were not among Lnthcr's qualities. 
It would bc to misrepresent him completely wcrc wc to 
assign to hiln, as special characteristics, bashfulncss, 
tilnidity and lovc of retirement ; however much he himself 
occasionally claims such virtues as his. On the other hand, 
hc also assures us that no one can say of him that he wished 
the tllescs of this Disputation to bc merely " whispered in 
a corner." 
With this impulse to bring his new doctrines boldly 
before the world may bc connected his taking, about this 
tinle, in one of his letters thc name Elcuthcrius, or Free- 
spirited. This was his way of rendering into Greek his 
name Luther, agreeably with the customs of the time. 
Only a fcw wccks after the second Disputation which wc 
havc been cousidcring, hc camc forward with his Indulgence 
theses against Tetzcl, of which the result was to be another 
great Disputation. Disputations seemed to him a very 
desirable luethod of arousing sympathy for his ideas; 
these learned encounters with his opponents gave him a 
good opportmfity for disl)laying his fiery temper, his quick- 
wittcdncss, his talent as an orator, his general knowledge, and 
particularly his familiarity with the Bible. 
But this is not yet thc place to discuss the Indulgence 
theses against Tetzcl. 
The better to appreciate the state of Luther's mind at the 
time when he was becoming settled in his new theological 
principles, we may bc permitted to consider here, by antici- 
pation, another great Disputation on faith and grace, that, 
namely, of Itcidclbcrg, which took place after the outbreak 
of Luther's hostilities with Tctzcl. In comparison with thcsc 
questions, the Indulgcncc controversy was of Icss importance, 
as wc shall have occasion to scc ; it was in reality an acci- 
dental occurrence, though one prcguant with consequences, 
and, as it turned out, the most decisive of all. The common 
idea that the quarrel with TctzcI was the real starting-point 
of Luther's whole conflict with the Church is utterly unten- 

 Plitt, " Luthers Leben," Leipzig, 1883, p. 69. 


3. Disputation at Heidelberg on Faith and Grace. Other 
Public Utterances 
The Disputation at IIeidelbcrg took place on April 25, 
1518, about six months a.ftcr the nailing up of tbc theses 
against Tctzcl. A Chapter of the Augustiuiaa Congregation 
held ia that town afforded the opportuaity for this Disputa- 
To make use of the Chapters for such learned celebrations 
was nothing unusual, but. the selection of Luther to conduct 
the theological discussioa, at a time when his teaching on 
Grace and his Indulgence theses had aroused widespread 
comment aud cxcitcmct, ad whc an cxmniaatio of his 
conduct was pcading in the Order, was very sigaificant. 
Among the delegates of the priories present at. the ['haptcr, 
all of them choscu from the older and more respected monks, 
there was clearly a majority in favour of Luther. Another 
proof of this fact is, that at the Chapter, Johann Lang, ho 
was entirely of Luther's vay of thinkig, was chosen to 
succeed him as Rural Vicar on the expiry of Luther's term of 
service. Staupitz was confirmed in his dignity, though his 
own attitude and his pcrsistct blind prejudice in favour of 
Luther must have been known to all. It appears that 
Luther's controversy xvith Tctzcl was not even discussed in 
the Chapter ; 1 at any rate, we hear nothing whatever of it, 
nor even of ay difficulties being raised as to Luther's 
position in the much more important qucstiou of justifica- 
tiou, although strict injunctions had already bccn sent to the 
Order by the Holy See to place a check on him. and dissuade 
him from the course he was pursuing.  
If, moreover, wc bear in miud the character of the theses 
at this Disputation, which went far beyond anything that 
had yet appeared, but were nevertheless advocated before 
all the members assembled, we cannot but look upon this 
uuhappy Clmpter as the shipwreck of the German Augus- 
tiuian Congregation. At. the next Chapter, which was hehl 
after an interval of two years, i.e. sooucr thau was customary, 
Staupitz received a severe reprimand from the General of the 

x Kolde, " Die deutsche Augustinerkongregation," p. 315. 
= Klkoff, " Forschmgen zu Luthers r6nischem lrozess, '' 1905, 
p. 44 seq. Pstor, ",_History of the :Popes," English translation, 
volume vii., p. 361 ft. 

Order and at last laid down his office as Superior of the 
Congregation. 1 tlis weakness and vacillation had, however, 
by that time already borne fruit. 
Leonard Bcyer, all Augustinian, another of Luther's 
youthful pupils, was chosen by hiln to defend the theses at 
tIcidclbcrg under his own supervision. The Disputation 
was held in the Lecturc-rooln of the Augustinian monastery 
in the town. Among the nmnerous guests present were 
the professors of the University of Heidelberg. They were 
not of Luther's way of thinking, mid rather inclined to join 
issue in the discussion, though in general their dcmeanotlr 
was peaceable; one of the younger professors, however, 
in the course of the dispute voiced his disagreelncnt ill an 
interruption : " If the peasants hear that, they will 
certainly stone you." 
Among those present., four young theologians, who at a 
later date went over t.o the nev faith and beemne its aeti,c 
prolnoters, followed with lively interest the course of the 
discussion, in which Luther himself frequently took part; 
these were 5Iartin Bueer, an eloquent Dolniniean, afterwards 
preacher at Strasburg and a close friend of Luther ; Johmm 
Brenz, a 5Iaster of Philosol)hy, who subsequently worked 
for the new teaching in Swabia; Erhard Sehnepf, who 
became eventually a 1)reacher in Wtirttemberg, and Theobald 
Billieanus, wholn the theologians at tIeidelberg who 
relnained faithful to the Church summoned to be exalnined 
before theln on account of his lectures, and who then was 
responsible for the apostasy of the town of N6rdlingen. The 
Disputation at tIeidelberg had a great influence on all 
these, and rendered them favourable to Luther. 
The first named, lIartin Bueer, full of enthusiasm for 
Luther, inforlned a friend, that at the end of the Disputation 
he had completely triumphed over all his opponents and 
roused in ahuost all his hearers adlniration of his Iearning, 
eloquence, and fearlessness.  
If, however, we consider the theses from the theological 

x Kolde, p. 327. 
 Bucer to Beatus 1R.henanus, May 1, 1518, in the Correspondence 
of Beatus Rhenanus, ed. Horawitz and IIartfelder, Leipzig, 1866, 
p. I06 f. Also in " Relatio historica de disputatione Heidelbergensi ad 
Beatum Rhemnum," printed in the "Introductio in hist. evang." by 
D. Gerdesius, Gr(ningen, 1744. Supp., p. 176. Cp. " Luthers Werke,' 
Weim. ed., 1, p. 352. " Opp. Lut.. var.," 1, p. 385. 


law, vhich the reader has before remarked in Luther ; that fear 
which Catholic teaching had hitherto represented as the beginning 
of conversion and justification. 
Utterances (lrawn from that mysticism into vhich he had 
phmged and the language of which he had at that time made his 
own, are also noticeable. /-Ic speaks at the Disputation of the 
annihilation through which a nmn must pass in order to arrive at 
the certainty of salvation (a road which is assuredly only for the 
fev, whereas all stand in need of certainty) : "Whoever is not 
destroyed and brought back to nothingness by the cross and 
suffering, attributes to himself works and wisdom. But whoever 
has passed through this annihilation does not pursue works, but 
leaves God to work and to do all in him ; it is the same to him 
vhether he performs works or not ; he is not proud of himself 
when he does anything, nor despondent svhen God does not work 
in him. '' He then proceeds, describing the absolute passivity 
of his mysticism as the foundation of the process of salvation : 
" He [who is to be justified] knows that it is enough for him to 
suffer and be destroyed by the cross in order to be yet more 
annihilated. This is what Christ meant when He said (John 
iii. 7) : ' Ye must be born again.' If Christ speaks of ' being born 
again,' it necessarily follows that we must first die, i.e. feel death 
as though it were present." 

Besides the antagonism to true and well-grounded fear, md 
the mystical veneer, there is a third psychoIogical element 
which must be 1)ointed out in the Heidelberg Theses, viz. 
the uncalled-for emphasis laid on the strength of con- 
cupiseence and man's inclination to what is evil, and the 
insufficient appreciation of the means of grace which lead 
to victory. This view of the domination of evil, which 
must ultimately be favourable to libcrtinism, accompanies 
the theoretical expression and the practical realisation of 
his system. 
In the Heidelberg Disputation we find in the proof of thesis 13, 
already referred to : " It is clear as day that free will in man, 
after Adam's Fall, is merely a name and therefore no free will at 
all, at least as regards the choice of good ; for it is a captive, and 
the servant of sin ; not as though it did not exist, but because 
it is not free except for what is evil."  This Luther pretends to 
find in Holy Scripture (John viii. 34, 36), in two passages of St. 
Augustine " and in countless other places." I-Ie undertakes to 
prove this in a special note, by the fact that, according to the 
teaching of the Fathers of the Church, man is unable during life 
to avoid all faults, that he must fall without the assistance of 
grace, and that, according to 2 Timothy ii. 26, he is held captive 
by the "snares of the devil." " The wicked man sins," he says, 
 Concl. 24.  Cp. above, p. 202 ff. 


which leads to the love of the cross, which expresses itself in 
submission, in salutary fear, in a striving after what is good 
and which bears in itself the seeds of charity. She thus 
exhorted the faithful to 1)chance, the 1)raetiee of good works 
and a practical embracing of the cross. That was her 
(2 ross. 
" Theology of the TM " 

The three more iml)ortant Disputations considcrcd above 
were designated 1)y Luther himself as the " bcginling of the 
evangelical busmcs.. He gave the title Ititium negocii 
eratgelici to a eollcetion of the theses debated at these 
Dislmtations which appeared in print at Wittenberg in 
1538.  It is significant that the theses against Tetzel and 
on Indulgences have no 1)lace in this collection of the earliest 
" evangelical " doemnents. 
While Luther was on his way back from IIeidclberg, in a 
lcttcr to Trutfettcr his former profcssor, he submitted 
certain thoughts on his own theological position, which nmy 
well be deem(d his 1)rogl'amme for the future. To this worthy 
man. who faih.d to share his vievs and had given him timely 
warning of his errors, he says: " To speak plainly, my 
firm belief is that the reform of the Church is impossible 
unless the ecclesiastical laws, the Papal regulations, 
scholastic theolcffy, 1)hilosol)hy and logic as they at present 
exist, are thoroughly uproot(d and replaced by other 
studies. I am so convinced of this that I daily ask the Lord 
that the really lmre study of the Bible and the Fathers may 
speedily regain its true position. '' 
In this renmrkable letter, which is a curious mixture of 
respect and disputatious audacity, Luther admits that. on 
account of his teaching on grace, he is already being scolded 
in public sermons as a " heretic, a madma.n, a seducer and 
one possessed by ninny devils " ; at Wittenberg, however, 
he says, at the University all, with the exception of one 
licentiate, declare that " they had hitherto been in ignorance 
of Christ and His gospel." Too many charges were brought 
against him. Let them " speak, hear, believe all things of 
him in all places," he would, nevertheless, go forward and 
not be afraid. ere he does not pass over his theses against 
Tetzel in silence ; they had, he says, been spread in a quite 

Cp. " Werke," Veim. ed.. 1, p. 143, n. 
Letter of May 9, 1518, " 13riefwechsel," 1, p. 187 

If we examine the theses more closely and watch the 
bchaviour of their author after they were made public, there 
appears to be no doubt that they were considered by him as 
settled beforehand and not merely as tentative propositions. 
Many of them, from the theological poiut of view, go ftr 
beyond a mere opposition of the abuse of Indulgcnees. 
Luther, stilnulatcd by eop.tradietin, had to some extent 
altered his previous views on the uature of Indulgenecs, and 
brought them more into touch wilh the fuldamental prin- 
ciples of his erroneous theology. 
A praetieM renunciation of the doctrine of Indulgences, as 
it had been held up to that time, is to be found in the 
theses, where Luther states that Indulgences have no value 
in God's sight, but are merely to be regarded as the rc- 
lnission by the Church of the canonical punishlncnt (theses 
5, 20, 21, etc.). This destroys the theological meaning of 
Indulgences, for they had ahvays been eonsidcrcd as a 
remission of the temporal punishment of sin, but as a 
remission which held good before the I)ivine Judgment- 
scat.  In some of the theses (58, 60) Luther likewise 
attaeks tile generally aeecpted teaching with regard to the 
Church's treasury of grace, on which Indulgences are based. 
Erroneous views eonecrning the state of purgation of the 
departed occur in some of the propositions (18, 19, 29). 
Others a.1)l)car to eontain what is thcohgieally ineorrcet, 
and connected with his opinion regarding grace and justifica- 
tion; this opinion is not, however, clearly set forth in the 
list of theses. 
Many of the statements are mere irritating, insulting and 
cynical observations on Indulgences in general, no distinction 
being made between what was good and what was perverted. 
Thus, for instanee, thesis 66 declares the " treasures of 
Indulgenees " to be simply nets " in which the wealth of 
mankind is caught."-- Others again scoff and mock at the 
authority of lhe ('hureh, as, for example, thesis 86. " Why 
does not the Pope build tile Basilica of St. Peter ith his 
own money and not with that of the poverty-stricken 
fa.ithfnl, seeing that he possesses to-d.y greater riches than 
the most wealthy Croesus ? " 
In order that a certain echo of the author's mystical 
 Cp. Nos. 19, 20 and 21 of the 41 propositions of Lut.lmr condenmed 
in 1520. 

"A Sermon Oll Indulgences and Grace," which contains 
statements yet more vehcmcut and seditious. Ahnost at 
the same time, and in the greatest haste, he put on paper the 
weighty " lcsolu/ions " on his theses, written in Latin 
for the benctit of the more learned. The latter alpCal'ed in 
print in the spring of 1518. 
Meanwhile, at the bcgim6ng of 1518, the Arehbishol of 
Mavcncc had forwarded to Rome an account of the nlovc- 
merit which had bccn started and of the Monk's theses. 
As a result of this step the Pope, Leo X, on February 3, 
instructed P. Gabriclc della Volta, Vicar to the Gcucral of 
the Augustinians, to seek to turn Luther aside from his 
erroneous views by letter ad by the admonitions of honest 
and h'arncd men; dcla.v might fan the Slm.rk into a llamc 
which it might bc impossible to extinguish. 1 
There is m) doubt that instructions to this effect were 
despatched by Volta to Staupitz, and probably other 
measures were contemplated at the apl)roaching ('haptcr of 
the German Augustinian (ongrcga.tmn at Heidelberg; the 
calming of tim storm was a duty incumbent primarily on 
the Order itself, and the Holy See accordingly decided to 
act through Luther's immcdi:ttc superiors. Unfortunately, 
nothing whatever is known of any steps taken by the Order 
a.t this early stage. At the Heidelberg Chapter, which was 
held towards the end of April (above, p. 315) the election of 
a new Vicar-General of the Congregation to which Luther 
belonged had to take place ; a ncv Rural Vicar had also to 
bc elected in place of Luther, as the latter had now com- 
pleted his term of office. It seems plain that Staupitz and 
the large party who favoured Luther wished to act as gcutly 
as possible and not to interfere in the movement beyond 
making the necessary change in the person of the Rural 
After Luther had received the summons to Heidelberg, 
the Elector wrote to Staupitz a letter dated Friday in 

x Cp. Pastor, "History of the Popes," volume vii., English trans- 
lation, p. 361. Kalkoff, "Forschungen zu Luthers rOnaischem Prozess," 
Rom., 1905, p. 44 f., a.nd " Zu Luthers rOmischem Prozess: Das 
Verfahren des Erzbischofs v. Mainz gegen Luther," in " Zeitschrift 
fir Kirchengesch.," 31, 1910, pp. 48-65. Cp. ibid., p. 368 ft., on the 
Dominicans. Both authors shottld be consulted for the subsequent 
history of Rome's intervention. The Papal letter in ]3embi, Episto!ce 
Leonis X, 1, l fi, n. 18. 


Easter week, with a request to see that Luther, on account 
of his lectures, "shall returu here at the very earliest and not 
be delayed or detained." 1 Vo cannot infer from this or 
from the Ele('tor's letter of safe eon(luet for Luther himself, 
that measures agabst him were antieipatcd ;t the Chapter. 
These (locumcnts merely 1)rove the cxcel)tiolml favour 
which Luther enjoyed with the rcigniug Prince. 
Luther strutted from Wittcnbcrff on April 11. Being a monk 
hc had to make the journey on foot as far as Wiirzburg ; 
after having been hosl)itably entertained by the Bishop, 
Lorenz yon Bibra, who was very well disposed towards him, 
he proccc(lcd to I[eid('lbcrg by coach, together xvith Johanla 
Lang and some other monks. The Chal)tcr re-elected 
Staupitz and made Johami Lang Rural Vicar in Luther's 
stead, a. (.hdcc which, as already hinted, exl)rcsscd approval 
rather than (lisal)l)roval of what Luther had done. It was 
also very significant of the position ado])tcd 1)y the Augus- 
tini:m Congregati(m, that Luther should have bccu per- 
mitted to preside at the I[cidclbcrg Disputation. lie 
advanced the theses, which have already bccn discussed 
(above, 1 ). 317), containing the denial of frcc xvill, i.e. the 
most iml)ortant clement of his new teaching, and entrusted 
their (lcfencc to Master Leonard Bcycr, an Augustinian of 
Wittenberg, who conducted the debate iu the presence of the 
assembled Clm.ptcr and 1)rofcssors of I[cidelberg University, 
who had also been invited. It is remarkable that the 
question of Indulgences, which was so greatly agitating 
the minds of all. was not touched upon in the Disputation. 
Perhaps it was thought better, from motives of 1)rudcnce, 
to avoid this subject altogether at Heidelberg. 
At the bcgiuning of May Luther returned to Vittcnbcrg 
by way of Wiirzbm-g and Erfurt. Itc took advantage of his 
stay at Drcsdcu to preach a sermon 1)cfcrc I)ukc George 
and his Court ou July 25, 1518. In this sermon hc spoke 
in such a way of " tim truc understanding of the Word of 
God." of the " Grace of Christ and ctcrual Prcdcstilmtion," 
and of the overcoming of the " Fca.r of Gd," that the Duke, 
who was a staunch adherent of the Church, was much 
displeased, and often declared afterwards that such teaching 
only made men presumptuous. The account of the sermon 
and of Duke George's opinion is first found in the" Origines 
x Kolde, " Die deutsche Augustinerkongregation," p. 313. 

work in reply, entitled "Freedom of the Sermon on 
Indulgence and Grace." 
Fearing that the Pope wouhl exeonmmuieatc him, Luther 
1)reaehcd a sermon to the inhabitants of Wittcnberg in the 
early summer of 1518, possibly on May 16, on the power of 
cxconmmnication ; what hc there lint forth excited wide- 
spread comment aud irritation. This scrmou hc issued in 
print, in August, but, in an amended forln. In it hc says 
exconmmnieation is invalid it the ease of one who honestly 
asserts the truth; nevertheless, it must bc obeyed. I[c 
blames the all too frequent, use of exeommunieati()n, as 
many good Churehmcn had done 1)eft,re him. It had 1)con 
rccogniscd and taught from Patristic times that unjust 
cxcommunicatiol did m,t dcl)rivc the exc(,mmunicatc of 
a part, in the inward life of the ('hm'ch (anima ecclesia'). 
This Luther emphasises for his owu party purposes, but 
without as yet setting up " a new view of the nature of the 
Hc says, in a letter to his elderly friend Staupitz, that, 
owing to the act, ion of his adversaries, " a new flame " would 
surely bc kindled by this sermon, though he lind extolled the 
power of the Pope in it, as was litting ; hc dcclarcs that hc 
is the l)ersccutcd party; " bu Christ still lives and rcigis 
yesterday, to-day and for ever. My conscience tells mc I 
have taught the truth; but it, is just this which is hated 
whenever its name is mentioned. Pray for me that I nmy 
not rejoice overmuch nor be over-confident in myself iu this 
trouble." He trusts to triumph, by printing the sermon 
referred to, over all those who had listened to it with jealousy, 
and maliciously misreprcscltcd it. Yet his mood is by no 
means one of umnixcd joy ; hc ]tints in the same letter to 
Staupitz at, mysterious interior sufferings which weigh upou 
him " incoml)arably more ]wavily," so hc says, than the 
fear of any measures llomc may take. At the same time 
he is quite carried away by the idea that hc nmst, at any 
cost, fight against the conteml)t which the Romanists arc 
heaping upon the Kingdom of Christ.  
Meanwhile, in March, 1518, coml)laints had again been 
carried to Ilomc by some Dominicans. Towards the middle 
of June fresh official steps were taken by Rome against, 
Luther's person, this time without the intervention of the 
 May 1, 1518, " Briefweehsel," 1, p. 223. 

and wily tricks of the 1R, omans ; if he continued to incense him, 
he would make free use of his wit and pen against him.  
In Iris reply to Prierias, Luther had referred his l)poncnt 
to the lcsolntions to his Indflgcnec theses, which were 
then already in print. Staupitz forwarded to Rome the 
copy destined for the Pope. The letters to Staupitz aud 
Leo X, which were incorporated in the work, were dated 
May 30, 1518, though the printing was not finished before 
August 21. As the ]Ics(dutions, Lulhcr's most important 
work on the (lucstim of In(bflenees, obstilmtcly confirmed 
the errors already expressed, more severe measures were 
anticipated on the part of the Curia. 
In his efforts to procure the appointment of judges to 
try Iris cause iu Gcnmmy, Luther s(mght, through the Elcetor, 
to make use of tim mediation of the Emperor Maximilian. 
But the Emperor, who was earnestly solicitous for the 
welfare of religion, and at the same time was anxious to 
secure the Pol)e's favour on behalf of the election of his 
grandson Charles as King of Rome, wrote to Leo X, 
August 5, 1518, from Augsburg, that out of love for the 
uuity of the faith he would support any measures the Pope 
might take against Luther. 
More severe proceedings against Luther were accordingly 
set on foot in Rome, even before the sixty days were over. 
These measures arc outlined in the Brief of Augus 23. 1518, 
sent to Cardinal Cajetan, the Papal Legate at the Diet of 
Iu view of the notoriety of Luther's acts and teaching. 
with the assistance of the spirituM and secular power, 
('ajetau was to have him brought to Augsburg; should 
force have to be used, or should Luther uo rceaut, theu 
Cajctan was to lmnd him over to Rome for trial and punish- 
ment ; he himself therefore was not to be the actual judge, 
but only to receive Luther's recantation. In the event of 
his l)reseuting himself voluntarily at Augsburg and recanting, 
so ran the instructions, Luther was to find pardon and 
mercy. Should it be impossible to procure his appearance 
at Augsburg, theu the measures provided by law and 
custom for such cases were to be enforced; he aud his 
followers were to bc publicly exeonmmuieated, and the 
authorities in Church and State were to be forced, if ncees- 
 KOst.lin-Kawerau, 1, p. 196. 


This view was not supported by the Papal Bulls of Indulgence, 
and Luther was not justified in asserting at a later date that the 
Pope had actually taught this. 1 Great theologians, such as 
Cardinal Cajetan, for instance, even then expressed themselves 
against such a view, which now is universally reeognised as 
untenable. It was the wish of Cajetan that no faith should be 
given those preachers who taught such ext.ravaganees. "Preachers 
speak in the name of the Church,"2 he wrote, " only so long as 
they proelain the teaching of Christ and the Church; but if 
for purposes of their own, they teach that about which they know 
nothing and which is only their own imagination, they cannot 
be regarded as mouthpieces of the Church ; no one must be 
sm'prised if such as these fall into error." It is true, however, 
that even the more highly plaeed Indulgence Commissaries did 
not scruple, in their official proclamations, to set forth as certain 
this doubtful seholastie opinion. It is no wonder that Tetzel 
in his popular appeals seized upon it with avidity, for, in spite 
of eertain gifts, lie was no great theologian, lie not only taught 
the certain and immediate liberation of the soul in the above sense 
but also the erroneous proposition that a Plenary Indulgence 
for the departed eould be obtained without contrition and 
penanee on the part of the living, simply by means of a money 
Some of Tetzel's lnore reeent ehmnpions have insinuated that 
the unfavourable opinion concerning his teaching rests merely 
on witnesses who reported on his sermons from hearsay without 
having themselves been present. As a matter of fact, however, 
the aeeusat.ions do not rest merely on such testimony, but more 
espeeially on Tetzel's own theses, or " Anti-theses," as he called 
them, on his "Vorlegang " against Luther and on his second 
set of theses. This is reinforeed by the offieiM instruetions on 
the Indulgence to xhieh he was bound to eonform. That a 
money payment alone is necessary for obtaining an Indulgenee 
for the departed is indeed stated--though wrongly--in the 
instructions of Bomhauer and also in those of Areimboldi and 
Albert of Brandenbtlrg. The Anti-theses above lnentioned were 
publicly defended by Tetzel on Jmmary 20, 1518, at the Uni- 
versity of Frankfort on the Oder; they thus belong to Tctzel, 
though in reality they were drawn up by Conrad Vimpina, a 
Professor of Theology in that town. Paulus published a new edition 
of the Anti-theses, which were ah'eady known, from the original 
broadsheet which lie discovered in the Com't Library at Munich. a 
Four witnesses to the inaeeuraey of Tetzel's serlnons must be 
mentioned: firstly, the Town Clerk of G6rlitz, Johann I-Iass; 
then Bertold Pirstinger, Bishop of Chiemsee and author of the 

 " Verke," Erl ed., 65, p. 78 : " The Pope had stely commanded 
the angels to carry forthwith the souls of the departed to heaven." Just 
as Tetzel taught : " As soon as the penny rattles in the box, the soul 
flies straight from Purgatory to Heaven." 
" November 20, 1519. "Opuscula," Lugd., 1558, p. 121. 
Paulus, " Tetzel," p. lfiS.  1bid., p. 171 f, 

" Tewtsche Theologey "; thirdly, the Saxon Franciscan Franz 
Polygranus; and lastly, Duke George of Saxony. They confirm 
the statements taken from the above sources, and though their 
assertions do not rest on what they themselves heard, yet they 
may be considered as the echo of actual hearers. 
In connection with the above " horrible, terrible articles " 
taken from Tctzcl's teaching, Lnthcr makes a statement 
with regard to his own position and knowledge at that tinc, 
which, notwithstanding the sacred alIirmation with which 
he introduces it, is of very doubtful veracity. 
" So truly as I have been saved by my Lord Christ," hc 
says of the beginning of the Indulgence controversy in 1517, 
" I knew nothing of what an Indulgence was, and no more 
did anyone else."  
It is possible that in 1541, when, as an elderly man, he 
these words, they may have appeared to him to be true, but the 
sources from which history is taken demand that he himself as 
well as his Catholic contemporaries should be protected against 
such a chaxge of ignorance. His assertion has been defended 
by some Protestants on the assumption that hi ignorance was 
only concerning the recipients of the revenues proceeding from 
the Indulgence. But why force his words ? They refer, as the 
whole context shows, to the theological doctrine of Indulgences. 
We need hardly remind our readers that the conviction that 
Luther was thoroughly well acquainted with the Catholic doctrine 
on Indulgences can be demonstrated by his own sermon on 
Indulgences of the year 1516.  He there shows himself perfectly 
capable of distinguishing between the essentials of the Church's 
doctrie and the obscure and difficult questions which the theo- 
logians were -ont to propomd in their discussions. With regard 
to these latter, and these only, he admitted his uncertainty, as 
did other theologians too. This was as little a disgrace to him as 
the obscurity surrounding certain points was to the theology of 
the Chm'eh. But it is quite another matter when he says he did 
not even -laow what an Indulgence was. That no one else knew 
either, is a statement disposed of by his own sermon of 1516 and 
the various theological tracts on this subject. We need only 
recall the explanations of Cardinal Cajetan, of the Augustinian 
theologia and preacher Johann Paltz and of the continuator 
of the work of Gabriel Bielso much studied among the Augus- 
tinians--Wendelin Steinbach, who succeeded Biel as professor at 
Tiibingen. Biel hinseL[ had written on the question of Indulgences 
for the departed, and, in his appendices on this subject, had 
expressed himself quite correctly. 
Of the older theologians who preceded those we have men- 
 " Verke," Erl. ed., 26, p. 53. 
.o,, Verke," Weim. ed., l, p. 65 seq. For the contents, see above 
p. 324 f. 


to that of Magdeburg and also the expenses of the pallium, it 
has now beeL ascertained (the fact is certainly no less to l%ome's 
discredit) that, in reality, it was the loman authorities, who, for 
finacial reasons, offered the Idulgence to the Archbisho !) ; Albert 
was to receive fro,l the l,roceeds a compensation of 10,000 ducats, 
which sum, iu addition to the ordinary fees, had been dcmauded 
of him on the occasio, of his confirmation as Aa'chbisho l) of 
Mayence on account of the dispcnsatiou necessary for coml)ining 
the t'o AJ'chiepiscol)al Sees; one half of the proceeds of the 
Indulgence was to be made over to him for the needs of the Arch- 
diocese of Mayence, the other half was to go towards the reo 
1)uilding of St. Peter's, for whi,.h object a collection had already 
commenced iu other countries and was being prom,ted by the 
l)reaching of the Indulgence. 
Regarding the whole matter we learn the following dctail.q. 
When Bishop Albert of Brandenburg, the brother of the 
Brandcnl)urg Elector, Joachim I, was chosen Archbisho l) in 
1514 by the Cathedral Chal)ter of 1Iaycnce he was faced by great 
difficulties, financial as well as ecclesiastical. Was it likely that 
he would obtain from Rome his confirmation as AJ-chbisho l) of 
Mayence, seeing that he was already Archbishop of Magdebm'g 
and at the same trine administrator of the diocese of Halber- 
stadt ? XBould it be possible for him to raise the customary 
large sum to be paid for his confnnation and for the pallium, 
seeing that the Archdiocese of Mayence, owing to two previous 
vacancies in rapid succession, had alrely been obliged to pay 
this sm twice within ten years, and was thus practically bank- 
rupt ? The sum necessary, which was the same in the case of 
Treves and Cologne, amounted on each occasion to about 14,000 
ducats. Vith regard to the confirmation-fees for the See of 
Mayence and the expenses of the pallium, the Elector Joachim, 
who, for political reasons, xas extremely anxiom to see his 
1)rother in possession of the electoral dignity of Mayence, 1)romised 
to defray the same, and thus the 5Iayence election took 1)lace on 
5Iarch 9. The Axchbishop-elect borrowed, on May 15 of the same 
year, 21,000 ducats from the ]?uggers, the great Augsburg 
1)ankers--no doubt 'ith his brother's concurrence--in order to 
1)e able to meet at lome the necessary outlay for his confirmation 
and pallium. 
Grave doubts, ho-ex'er, -ere entertained in the Papal Curia 
as to -hether, according to canon law, the above bishoprics 
might be held by the same person. Two of the offices in question 
were archbishoprics, and, hitherto, in spite of the pre-alence of 
the abuse of placing several croziers in one hand, two arch- 
bishoprics had never been held by one man. Besides, the candi- 
date was only in his twenty-fourth year. 
An undesirable way out of the difficulty of obtaining the 
necessary dispensation for holding the three ecclesiastical dig- 
nities presented itself. An official of the lapal Dataria informed 
the aubassador fron Brandenbm'g, that if Albert could be 
induced to pay 10,000 ducats beyond the customary fees " this 

gulden " which Tetzel was said to have collected in one year are 
a mere fiction. This tale was spread abroad in 1721 by J. E. 
Kapp, and before that by J. Voltius (1;00), and would at)l)Car 
to date from a chance word let fall by Paul Lang, the Bene- 
dictine (1520). 1 We are, however, in possession of more authentic 
details since an exact account was kept. 
This account of the collections was made iu the following 
manner : the money-boxes were opened and the contents counted 
in the presence of witnesses, and the statement of the amount 
certified by a notary. Representatives of both parties--Arch- 
bishop Albert and the Fugger bank--were present, and kept an 
account, half of the proceeds being paid by the Fuggers to the 
Curia at t/ome for St. Peter's, and the other half to the Arch- 
bisho I) of Mayence. It was a good thing and a guarantee against 
mismanagement, that, at any rate in the case of the Mayence 
Indulgence and that for St. Peter's, a reliable banking-house of 
world-wide fame and conducted on business principles (even 
though Luther styles the Fuggers cut-purses), should have thus 
undertaken the sul)ervision of the accounts, however distasteful 
it may seem to have left to bank oflfcials the distribution of the 
Indulgence-letters from the very comnencement of the preaching. 
How much did the proceeds amount to ? The Ma.yence 
Indulgence was 1)reached only from the beginning of 1517 to 
1518, the rise of the religious conflict interfering with its con- 
tinuance. Schulte has, however, put us in possession of txvo 
considerable statements of accounts concerning this period, 
taken from the archives of the Vatican. That of May 5, 1519, 
deals vith the Papal half of the Indulgence money which flowed 
in from the various dioceses of the ecclesiastical province of 
Mayence during 1517 and 1518, and was handed over by the 
house of Fugger. This half amounted to 1643 gulden 45 kreuzer. 
A like sum was handed over to Albert, as hes been 1)roved by 
Schulte from a document iu the State archives at Magdeburg. 
The other statement of account is dated June 16 of the same 
year and places the stun total of the money received from the 
ecclesiastical province of Magdeburg at 5149 gulden, according 
to which each half amounted to 2574 gulden. If we assume 
these sums, viz. 8436 gulden, to have been the gross proceeds 
of the Indulgence enterprise, and if we take into consideration 
the charges, comparatively high, for those engaged in the work, 
then the amount cannot be described as large. Nor would the 
Archbishop of Mayence have received entire the 4218 gulden 
constituting his share, as, according to an arrangement made 
with the Emperor, he had been obliged to make him a yearly 
payment of 1000 gulden from the net lrofits. Thus only 3218 
gulden would have remained to him. This would have com- 
x N. Paulus, in the " K/Sln. Volksztg.," ibid., who gives the quota- 
tions from Kapp and Volfius. Paul Lang says, in Pistorius Struvius, 
'* Ier. gems. script.," 1, p. 1281, Luther, by his interference with the 
preaching of the Indulgence, had, " ut lama fuit," caused the 1Rornans 
in one year a loss of 100,000 gulden. 

man a liar." 1 /-Ie certainly did not. treat the matter lightly. To 
attribute hypocrisy to him, as though he merely played a part., 
would be to do him an iujustice. It. is true there are recent. 
writers who look upon him as a mere comedian, but it. would be 
nearer the nm.rk t.o compare him to John Hus on his jom'uey to 
the Counci! of Cousta.uec. Like him, he looked forward to death 
without any iu(.linatim to recant. The th(mgbt l)assed through 
him, he once said la.ter : " Now 1 must (lie," aud be 15ctured to 
himself " what a that would be for his putouts."* 
The two letters he addressed to and Melanchthon a 
few days after his arrival iu Augsburg and before his first, examina- 
tion, gave proof of the strauge mystical teudency which also 
appears in the fragment mentioned above; they show how he 
overcomes the inward voice which urges him to submit, and also 
the iuq)ortunities of his anxious friends; they also show how, 
even then, he was prepared to take a certain step, should the 
dcmauds appear to him too great. : " I shall assuredly appeal to 
a General Council. '' He admits that he was " wavering between 
hope and fear " and, in order to stinmlate his own courage, he 
draws a pi(.tm'e in these ]ett.ers of two of the terrifying qualities of 
these " Italims " before whose rel)rcsent.ative (i.e. Cajetan) he is 
to defend himself. 
We lnust try to place ourselves in his l)osition and to appreciate 
his prejudices. 
In the first place, he relentlessly accuses his adversaries of 
avarice and greed in everything; unfortunately his knowledge 
of the Indulgence business had furuished sufficient cause for 
reproaches and complaints against the Church authorities in that 
respect., a Secondly, he finds fault, with the " ignorance " of his 
opponents, and here he undoubtedly excites himself quite wrougly 
and unnecessarily over their supposed senseless and one-sided 
Scholasticism. In his letter to Melanchthon he exclaims, as 
though to reassure himself: " Italy lies in Egyptian darkness, 
her animosity to learning aud culture is unbounded. 80 greatly 
do they misapprehend Christ and all that is Christ's. And yet 
these are our teachers and nmsters in faith and morals. The 
anger of God is thus fulfilled in us where He says : 'I will give 
children to be their princes, and the effenfinate shall rule over 
them.' Good-bye, my lhilip, and turn aside God's anger by holy 
prayers." The supposed want of sympathy with learning and 
culture of which Luther accuses the Italians in this letter to lhilip 
Melanchthon is sin-ely most untrue, and was no doubt intended 
to strengtheu Melanchthon, the weak and wavering I-Iumanist, 
in his allegiance to Luther's party, for Luther, notwithstanding 
his anxieties, had not lost his cunning. The reloroach against 
 " Briefwechsel," l, p. 238. 
* " Colloquia," ed. Bindsefl, 2, p. 175. 
a To Spalatin from Augsburg, October 10, 1518, " Briefwechsel," 
1, p. 242. 
 Ibid., " Ecclesia Romana a.m'o insatiabiliter eget et vorando assidue 
sitim auger." 

Italy and Rolne, where at that time Hmnanism was flourishing 
as nowhere else, can at lnost only apply to the stiffness of the old 
debased Scholasticism, and perhaps to a certain backvardness in 
biblical studies. Such blelnishes afforded hiln a welcome handle. 
" I will rather perish," he assm'es Melanchthon, the enthusiastic 
scholar, " than withdraw lny true theses and help to destroy 
learuing." " I go, should it please the Lord, to be sacrificed for 
you and your young men." 
He still cliugs to the idea of being one with the Church in his 
theological views. " If they can prove to me that I have spoken 
differently from what the Holy l/oman Church teaches, I will at 
once pronounce sentence against myself and beat a retreat, but," 
he adds, "there lies the knot." x A knot tied by himself. Strange, 
iudeed, is the lnethod he proposes for cutting it: "If that 
Cardinal [Cajetan] insists on the private opinions of St. Thomas 
more strongly than is colnpatible with the doctrine and authority 
of the Church, I shall not yield to him until the Chm'ch withdraws 
from her earlier standpoint upon which I have taken u 1) my 
Hov greatly the applause with which he was lneetiug every- 
where worked Ul)On him psychologically, confirming him in his 
resistance, came out clearly at Augsburg. 
It was only on this journey and at Augsburg itself that he 
became aware what a celebrity his action had made him. He 
alludes to this in the above-mentioned letter to Melanchthon, 
where he also reveals a flattering self-colnplacency : " The only 
thing that is new and  onderful here is, that the to n rings with 
my name. All want to see the man who, like a new Herostratus, 
has -ldndled such a big blaze." 
Cardilm.1 ('ajctan, after making vain rcl)rcscntations to 
Luther, finally demanded the withdrawal of two pro- 
positions which hc had l)lainly taught and acknowledged 
as his. The fir.t was his denial that thc treasure of the 
merits of Christ and thc saints was thc foundation of 
Indulgences ; the second was the statement which appeared 
in the " Ilcsolutions," that the sacraments of the Church 
owed their efficacy only to faith. These werc points in 
which hc had manifestly deviated from the Catholic teaching 
and, to boot, matters of supreme doctrinal ilnl)ortancc ; as 
a professor of theology Luther, moreover, had bound himself 
to submit to the teaching a.uthority of thc Church. 
IIis final answer to thc Pal)fl legate was, that hc could not 
recant unless he were convinced that he had said soniething 
against Holy Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the 
Papal definitions, or sound reason. 
Then followed his falnous secret flight from Augsburg to 
x In the letter quoted to Spalatin, p. 240 f. 

In feverish haste, without awaiting the result of his first 
apl)cal, hc 1)ublishcd, November 28, 1518, a new a.1)pcal to a 
future General Council. 
An al)l)cal to an (;cumcnical Council was 1)rohibitcd by 
old laws of the Church, because, at the COlnmcnccmeut of 
ally movement directed against tile authority of tile Church, 
it appeared likely to render all efforts for the eoml)osilg of 
differeuecs illusory. It was rightly felt that whoever came 
in eouflict with the Church would nmke every effort to 
reserve the decision of his cause to some future Council, 
more especially whcu he is able meauwhile to devote himself 
freely to the furtherance of his ideas, and when the speedy 
stlnllllOlliug Of a Council is very doul)tful. Tile claim 
that all (Ecumcuieal Council should be called to 1)ronounee 
upon every ncxv ol)ilfiOn was so extravagant that the 
prohibition found general al)l)roval. 
At the time of Luther's advent on the scene tile prospect 
of a General Council, owing to the disscnsious among the 
Christian Powers, had retreated into the far distance, and 
even though it had been possible for the bishol)s throughout 
the whole world to assemble, the meeting, according to 
ancient custom and the rcgulatious of canon law, would have 
taken place under the Pope's l)rcsidcncy. Even in this event 
Luther can, aeeordiugly, have cherished but small hol)e of 
winning the day. 
IIis deep distrust of Rome we find expressed in the letter, 
written almost simultaneously, to his trusted friend Wenee- 
laus Link, the Nuremberg Augustinian, to whom he was 
forwarding his account of what had taken place at Augsburg 
C4cta :4ugustana): " My 1)en is giving birth to much 
greater things than these lcta. I kuov not whence these 
thoughts eome to me ; the cause [i.e. the conlliet], to my 
thinking, has not vet commenced in earnest and much less can 
these gentlemen from Rome look to see the end. I shall 
send my little works to you so that you may see if I am 
right ill surmising that the real Anti-Christ whom Paul 
describes (2 TheWs. ii. 3 ft.) rules at the Roman Court. I think 
I can prove that to-day he is worse than the Turks."  
Whoever could speak in this way had already cut himself 
adrift or was on the 1)oint of so doing. 

 On December 11, 1518, "' Briefwechsel," 1, p. 316. 


In the book in question, where he treats of the Sixth 
Commandment, he is very severe and exact, indeed, rather 
too exact and detailed in his cnunmratioli and dclmnciation 
of the various kinds of sins of the flesh, lie speaks with 
rhetorical Clnl)hasis and, it must be admitted, with a wealth 
of earnest thmght, agaiust the habit of filthy talking which 
was gaining ground at that time.  IIere, for cxalnl)lc, after 
the most solemn waruings against giving scandal to the little 
ones, he lets fall these golden words with regard to reform : 
" If the Church is to blossom again, the begilming must be 
made by a earcful training of the young. '' Among other 
things, Luther treats of the total)rations which the devout 
mau abhors and nmst al)hor, although he can never escape 
them, and gives vent to the paradox: " True chastity is 
therefore to be found in sensuality, and the more filthy the 
sensuality, the lnorc beautiful the chastity, ''a surely a 
delightful instance of our author's propensity to mmsual 
hmguagc. Solnewhat obscurely, indeed, he aIso speaks 
against the freedom of the will to do what is good; Paul 
invokes the mercy of God against the temptatiou " in the 
body of this death" (lloln. vii. 24 f.), and he, Luther, 
would lmnent over the " poison of death within him." 
" Vhcrc then are those who vaunt their free will ? Why 
do they not set thcmsch'es free from eoneupiseeuee as soon 
as they please ? Why will they not, yea, why are they unable 
even to will ? . . . Because their will is already elsewhere, 
dragged away as a captive. ''a 

4. The Disputation of Leipzig (1519). Miltitz. 
Questionable Reports 
The Leipzig Disputation, which colnmenccd on June 27, 
1519, and the origin and theological course of which has 
been often euough depicted, as was to be expected, merely 
induced Luther to proceed yet further with his revolutiolmry 
The Plcissenburg of Leipzig has become since the Disputa- 
tion between Luther and Carlstadt on the one side and Eek 
()n the other, a memorable lllOlltllllCllt of Gerlnan history. 
The great hall of this castle belonging to Duke George was 
hung with spleudid tapestries ; a guard of the eitizcus kept 
 " Werke," Weim. ed., 1, p. 490.  Ibid., p. 494. 
 Ibid., p. 486.  Ibid., p. 485. 

watch before the walls of the castle, for the Coul't, as well as 
the city, wished to insure the safety of those conducting 
the wordy tournament which was to be held in the public 
name. In addition to the professors of the University of 
Leipzig and the guests from Wittenberg, students as well as 
masters, many others were present, brought together partly 
by curiosity, partly by interest in one or other of the 
religious parties. The Duke, the guests of distinction, a.nd 
the sworn stenographers had special places assigned to them. 
Two professorial chairs stood facing each other. On that 
belonging to the Wittenberg 1)arty CarIstadt, who had 
arranged the affair, took his scat and disputed with Eck 
for four whoIe days on man's free will and its efficacy with, 
and under, grace. 
Then, on July -l, Luther succeeded him and at once 
launched into the theological controversy ou the question 
of the Primacy of the Pope. As in the case of Cu'lstadt, 
Eek stood his ground without assista.nce until the Disputa- 
tion closed on July 14. 
The Acts of the debate were to have been submitted to the 
Universities of Erfurt and Paris for decision as to the winner, 
but this was never done. The final impression made ou the 
minds of the audience was that Eek had borne away the 
palm. He had repelled the often virulent attacks of two 
adversaries vith untiring mental and physica.1 energy, and 
had displayed throughout a more extensive and ready 
a.equaintanee with the theologians, the decisions of the 
Church, the Fathers a.nd the Bible than either of the repre- 
sentatives of the new opinions. Of a powerful and iml)osing 
exterior, with a strong sonorous voice, he dominated the 
course of the Disputation by his cIear-hea.dedness, his com- 
posure and deliberation, whereas Carlstadt was too hurried 
and confused a.nd unable to produce the necessary positive 
proofs, and Luther, by his over-confidence, his rhetoric and 
the habituaI violence of his attacks on his enemies gave 
umbrage to many. The greatest stumbling-block to 
Luther's success lay in the fact that the principal point, 
which was to be decisive for his standpoint towards the 
('hutch, was still, even to himself, as Protestant writers 
express it, " in process of inward development," whereas 
" Eek could take his stand on a sound and solid basis." x 
x K6slin-Kawerau, 1, p. 245. 


Luther's edition of the Latin Commentary on the Epistle 
to the Ga]atians, which appeared in September, 1519, 
assumed all the more importance in his eyes. In this work, 
written in the language of the learned (abo'e, p. 306), he 
undertook to defend o the widest basis and before cultured 
men of every clime his doctrines concerning grace aud 
salvation, faith and righteousness. 
I{crc wc have a public manifestation not merely of the 
doctrines which lay at the back of the schism he had 
stirred up by his controversy with Tctzcl, but also of his 
wrong new view concerning oly Scripture. 
In the matter of style, Luther was more successful in his 
shorter works, particularly in his German controversial 
pamphlets. Writers who opposed him, such as Eck, Eraser, 
Dungcrshcim, AL'cld, I[oogstraatcn, Pricrias bc readily 
withstood in words full of fire and imagination, although his 
aulnents, as a rule, left much to be desired and were not 
atoned for by his passionate invective. is main contention, 
voiced in a more or less coarse form, is, howc'cr, always the 
following : the proofs which you adduce from the teaching 
of the Church and the Fathers do not mo'e me because 

unfortunate mistake he made was not to insist upon Luther's recanta- 
tion (cp. S. Merkle, " Reformationsgeschichtliche Streitfragen," 
Munich, 1904, p. 51), contenting himself with Luther's illusory ex- 
planation of the end of February, 1519 (" Verke," Erl. ed., 242. p. 10 ft.), 
published as a pamphlet. In this Luther simply spea ks of the Papal 
power as a thing of which the existence must be taken for granted, and 
emphasises in general terms the dut.y of charity which forbids schism 
without due cause! This statement has been erroneously regarded 
by Catholics as an admission of the Primacy by Luther, as a " wonder- 
ful confession which the evidence of the facts wrung fron the heretic." 
With respect to this explanation, which, as Luther himself says, was 
destined for the "simple people," K6stlin-Kawerau's "Luther- 
Biographie," 1, p. 227, says : '" In this way did Luther fulfil his promise 
[to Miltitz] of exhorting to obedience to Rome. He exhorts to sub- 
mission to this power because, according to him, it merely extends to 
externals. With regard to anything further, its origin, its character, 
and its extent, he reserves to himself and to learned men generally, 
liberty of judgment. Of the important assertions which he had already 
made on this point in various passages in his works, none are here with- 
drawn." And yet, in this remarkable document corposed at the 
stigation of Miltitz, he calls himself "a submissive and obedient son 
of the Holy Christian Churches in which, by God's help, I will die," 
and declares : " I may say with a clear conscience that I have never 
imagfied anything [hostile] with regard to the Papacy or its power." 
He is, nevertheless, as he even there states, sure of his own " rock," 
and ready to stand up for it like Paul, Athanasius, and Augustine, even 
though he should be left quite alone. God is able to speak through one 
against all, even as He once spoke through the mouth of a she-ass. 


:Ih)Iy Scripture, upon which I take my stand, is above both 
Church and Fathers. 
By the IIoly Scril)turc he, lorcovcr, persists ill under- 
standing his own intcrpl-ctation of the Bible. By a tragic 
luistakc he ha.s come to confould his own personal and 
altogether subjective interpretation with tile objective 
" Word of God " in the Bible. Ill tile same way he makes 
not the slightest distinction between the lncaning of the 
" gospel," which he fancies he has discovered, and the actual 
Gospel itself. 
Catholics urged against Lut,her that the Church had been 
entrusted wit,h the safeguardiug of the Holy Books, wit,h t,he 
handing down of t,he canon of Script,ure and the correct inter- 
1)ret,at, ion of t,he same, and that, from the earliest Christian t, imes, 
t,he Fait,hfifl had always left, t,o the living Tradition, the General 
Councils and t, he Supreme Teacher of the Church--the Vicar of 
Christ, and inheritor of the powers of Peter--the final decision in 
doctrinal quest, ions and t,he correct, and binding interpret,at,ion of 
Holy Seript,ure. 
What, Luther asserted, for inst,anee, in his final letter t,o 
Dungersheim, brought the central dogma, nalnely, t,hat, of the 
t,eaehing office of t, he Church, into still clearer light, : " You have 
nothing else on your lips," he says to Dungersheim and t,o all 
Catholics generally, " but, t,he words Church, Church, heretic, 
heret,ic, and you will not admit that, t,he injunction : ' lrove all 
t,hings, hold fast t,hat, which is good' (1 Thess. v. 21), applies t,o 
any. But, when ve ask for the Church, you show us one man, t,he 
lope, t,o whom you entrust, everything [i.e. all decisions on 
matt,ers of fair,h], and yet you do not prove by one word that his 
faith is unchangeable. Yet, we have discovered in the lope's 
Decretals more heresies than any heretic ever invented. You 
ought, t,o prove your standpoint and instead of this you always 
st,art, from t,he same premiss."  Theologians, as a mat, t,er of fact,, 
had never claimed for all the eont,ents of the Deeret,als a rank 
among the solemn 1)ronouncements on faith. What, is, however, 
more important, is that Lut,her places t,he individual above the 
Church and the lrimaey appointed by God ; lie puts the Scrip- 
tures in his hand, to interpret, as he will. He continues as follows : 
" You ought, t,o prove t, hat t,he Church of God is with you and 
nowhere else in t,he world. We want, the Scriptures for our judge, 
but, you wish t,o be judges of the Script,ures."  
In t,his connect,ion, seeking to justify the bit, t,erness of his 
polemics, lie unwitt,ingly gives an excellent portrait of himself: 
" You misinterpret the words I speak, just, as t,he ass in your 
midst [Alveld] is doing a.t the present, moment. This seems t,o be 
the way with you people of Leipzig, you read without a.t,t,ent, ion, 
 " Briefweehsel," 2, p. 163. On the date see K6st.lin-Kawerau, 1, 
p. 258.  Ibid. 


At the close of this chapter sonic remarks may perhaps 
be permitted on certain mistaken or lnisundcrstood talcs 
concerning Luther, which belong to this pcri,d. 
The history of the sermon referred to a.bwc (p. 331,), 
delivered by Luther at Dresden in July, 1518, iu the presence 
of Duke George of Saxony has recently been presented to 
Protestant readers in the traditional legendary form as 
" portraying the whole history of the following centuries." 
If it were really so supremely important, then we ought, 
indeed, iu our narrative to put this sermon in a better 
light and assigned it a very different position. As a matter 
of fact, however, its contents are by no means of any great 
moment and do not even justify its description as " the 
trial sermon of the pale Augustinian monk." 

Duke George of Saxony, so we are told in this uew and adorned 
version of the incident, "had applied to the Vicar-Geueral of the 
Augustinians, Staupitz, requesting that he would procure for him 
an honest and learned preacher," and Staupitz thereuloon sent 
him Luther " with a letter of reconnnendation in which he 
described him as a highly gifted young man of proved excelleuce, 
both as regards his studies and his moral character." As a 
matter of faet, however, it is only known that Luther happened 
to be in Dresden on July 25, 1518, on his way back from the 
Heidelberg Chapter. As he usually did, he took advantage of the 
op10ortunity afforded him of preaching. Of the letters of Duke 
George or of Staupitz history knows nothing. 
The sermon was delivered in the castle ("in castro ") in the 
presence of the Court on the aforesaid day, which was a Sunday, 
and also the Feast of James the Greater. t The text was taken 
from the Gospel for the Feast in which our Saviour says to James 
and his brother : " Ye know not what ye .k " (Matt. xx. 22). 
On this text Luther, doubtless in his customary burning words, 
described " the fooli.hness of people in their prayers, and what 
the true object of prayer should be." This is what he himself 
tells us.  He introduced among other things into the sermon a 
story about three virgins, which, he says, was " quite theological." 
According to another account, he did uot lose the opportunity of 
expressing the ideas which dominated him, namely, that those who 
listen to the Word of God with an attentive mind are true 
disciples of Christ, chosen, and predestinated for life everlasting, 
and that we must overcome " the fear of God " ; he no doubt 
laid particular stress on faith and depreciated good works. It 
does not seem necessary to assume that there were two different 
sermons. " The evangelical certainty of Salvation, as against the 

Luther to Spltin, Jnury 14, 1519, " Briefwechsel," 1, p. 351 

I,--q. B 



1. The Second Stage of his development. Assurance 
of Salvation 
Two clcmcnts were still wanting to Luther's teaching-- 
the very two which, at a later date and till the end of his 
life, he regarded as the corner-stone of the truth which hc 
had discovcrcd--viz. Faith alone as the means of justifica- 
tion, and the assurance of Divine favour, which was its 
outcome. Both these elements arc most closely connected, 
and go to make up the Lutheran doctrine of the appropriation 
of salvation, or personal certainty of faith. In accordance 
therewith justifying faith includes not only a belief in Christ 
as the Saviour; I must not merely believe that He will 
save and sanctify mc if I turn to Itim with humility and 
confidence--this the Church had cvcr taughtbut I must 
also have entire faith in my justification, and rest assured, 
that without any work whatsoever on my part and solely 
by means of such a faith, all the demands made upon me are 
fulfilled, the merits of Christ appropriated, and my remaining 
sins not imputed to me; such is 1)crsonal assurance of 
salvation by faith alone. 
The teaching of the Catholic Church, we may remind our 
readers, never rccognised in its exhortation to faith and 
confidence ia God, the cxistcucc of this " faith alone " 
which justifies without further ado, nor did it require that 
of necessity there must be a special faith in one's state of 
salvation. Iu place of faith alone the Church taught what 
the Council of Trent thus sums up: " We are said to be 
justified by faith because faith is the begimfing of human 
salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, 
without which it is impossible to please God and reach the 
blessed company of :His children."  
And insted of setting up a special faith in our own state 
 Sess. 6, c. 8. 


in the course of his gloomy and abstruse treatment of pre- 
destination, hc had instructcd his hearers how they must 
bc resigned to this uncertainty concerning eternity (p. 236 ff.). 
In the ct of resigner.ion he perceived various signs of prc- 
destinat.ion. He sys in the Commentary on Romans : " There 
re three degrees in the signs of predestination. Some re connt 
with God's Will, but re confident they re mnong the elect 
do not wish to be damned. Others, who stand on  higher level, 
m'e resigned and contented with God's rill, or t least wish to be 
so, even though God should not choose  save them but to place 
them amongst the lost. e third, i.e. the last and highest 
degree, is to be resigned in very deed to hell if such be the Will of 
God, u hich is perhaps the case with ninny at the hour of death. 
in this way we become altogother purified fl'om self-will and the 
wisdom of t.he flesh. '' 
'" Terrible 1,ride prevails muong the hyl)ocrites and men of the 
law, who, because they believe in Christ, flfink themselves already 
saved and sufficiently right.cous," these claim to attain to grace 
a.ud the Divine Sonship " by faith alone " ("ex fide tantam "'), 
" as though we were saved by Christ without the 1)erfornanee of 
any works or acts of our own " (" sic ut ipsi nihll operentur, nlhil 
exhibeant de fide "). Such men possess too much faith, or rather 
none at all.  
}Vhile he was thus wavering between reminiseences of the 
Catholic teaching and his own pseudo-mysticM ideas on justifica- 
tion and imputation, his mind must indeed have been in a state 
of incessant agitation, so that uneasiness and fear became his 
natural element. " As we are unable to keep God's eommand- 
ments and are therefore always unrighteous, there remains 
nothing for us but to be in constant fear of the Judgment (' ut 
iudicium semper timeamus '), and to pray for pardon, or rather 
for the non-imptting of our unmehteousness. We are to 
rejoice, according to the Psalmist (ii. 11), before God on account 
of His Mt,rey, but with trembling on aeeount of the sin hieh 
deserves His Judement. 
In 1525 he wrote: To leave man no free will for what is 
good and to make him alt, ogether dependent on God's pre- 
destination "seems, it is t.rue, cruel and intolerable ; countless 
of the greatest minds of previous ages have taken offence at this. 
And who, indeed, is there whom the idea does not offend ? 
myself have more than once been greatly scandalised at it and 
plunged into an abyss of despair so t.hat, I wished I had never 
been created. But then I learned how wholesome despah" is and 
how close it lies  grace."  
This he " learned," or thought he learned, through his 
doctrine of assuranec of salvation through faith. 
1 ,, Sehol. Rom.,'" p. 215.  Ibid., p. 132. 
 Ibid., p. 124. 
 Ia De servo arbitrio, "" Werke,'" Weim ed., I8, p. 719. 

It must also be borne in mind that the Monk, with his 
pseudo-mystical ideas, cherished a gloomy conception of 
God, and held the terrible doctrine of the absolute prc- 
destilm.tion of the danmcd. I[aving wandered away frolll 
the Catholic teaching, with his views on man's lack of free 
will. and the theory of arbitrary imputation by God. hc 
found no answer in his troubled conscieuce to the question 
which weighed him down, nalncly, how to arrive at the 
assurance of a Gracious God. Confusion and interior lmngs 
of conscience for a while gained the upper hand. 
Lastly, his peculiar morbid tendency to fear lnUSt also be 
taken into account, for it. afforded an opportunity to the 
Telnptcr to add to his confusion by raising difficulties 
regarding the deficiencies of his new, scl[-ehoseu theology. 
Adolph Hausrath in his Lifc of Luthcr cvcn spcaks of 
periodical mcntal disturbanccs from which he snffcrcd during 
the time he was a monk ;thc disturbing powcr inherent in 
thc mouastie practiccs, so hc says, took possession of his 
scnsitive nature with its strong feclings; Luther Olfly 
escaped the danger of going nmd by bravely bursting the 
fetters of the nmnastie lhfle and the Popish Faith. Iu the 
strong inward eombats which Luther endured at a later 
date IIausrath reeognises a return of this atIlietion. [u his 
second editiou he has toned dowu this view of Luther's 
periodical attacks of meutal illness out of regard for the 
objections which had, not without reason, been nrged 
against his statement. In Luther's ease, however, there is 
no reason for assmning any " monkish mental disease," nor 
can he be proved to have suffered from any disturbance 
whatever of his mental functions at. any time of his life.  
But if we take it. that the night of the soul which he passed 
through, whether in the lnonastery or during his later 
struggle, had at. its basis a peeuliar physieo-lsyehie dis- 
position revealing a want of normal inward stability, then 
we can l)erhaps easily explain some other strange and at 
first blush inexplicable 1)henomena which his ease presents. 
At any rate, the fmdamental new dogma of the assuranee 
of salvation was not the produet of a elear, quiet, calm 
atmosphere of soul. It was born amidst unbearable inward 
mental eonfusion, and was a frantie attempt at self-paeifiea- 
 See volume vi., chapter xxxvi., "Dark-_side: of the Life of the 
Soul," 4, 5. 

into the background than in the Resolutions ; he no longer speaks 
of the above-mentioned magical production of the personal 
assurance of salvation, by the formula of absolution, as by the 
testimony of another; he now holds the absolute certainty of 
justification to be present by faith even before this, whenever 
a man is villing to submit himself, according to his instructions, 
to the Sacrament of Ienance. 1 Thus faith alone and the assur- 
ance of salvation were already present. The principal difficulty, 
however, as he admits below (p. 389 f.), still troubled his mind. This 
was the Justice of God, which haunted his conscience, though it 
did not hinder his going forward. 
The appeal he made to a General Couucil in November 
and his " conjecture " of December, 151S, that the Pope 
might be Autichrist, z were momentous indications that he 
was eut.ting himself adrift from the authority of the Church. 
At the same time he stripped the ideas he had hitherto held 
on faith of everything that rcmiuded him of the traditional 
teaching of the Church ; he trausf,rmed the faith necessary 
for justification into a mere act of confidence in the merits of 
Christ without any reference to the Sacraments, to the other 
truths of faith, or to the Church, who is the guardian and 
mouthpiece of faith. To lay hold upon the righteousness 
of Christ with a sure trust is made to suffice for justification 
and for the fullest assurance of salvation, without any of the 
preliminaries and conditions on which he had formerly 
insisted. This act., too, God alone operates in man, who 
himself is devoid of all free will. Although he 
clothes t.he act of confidence with love, and even hints at 
the good works a man may have performed previous to this 
act, also requiring good resolutions for the future, yet these 
are only additions which are really ilaeonsist.ent with his 
idea. IIeneeforward fidueial faith appears to him as really 
an isolated fact, an act of eoufidenee inspired by God merely 
from IIis good pleasure and with no regard for any vork. 
1 In the beginning of 1519 he gives instructions to the Faithful, 
intended to shov them how to make a good use of Confession ("A 
Short Instrttction how to make a Confession," " Verke," Weim. 
ed.. 2, p. 57 ff ; Erl. ed., 21, p. 244 ft.). Even in March, 1520, he re- 
published this little work in an extended form, "Confitendi Ratio," 
\Veim. ed.. 6, p. 154 seq. " Opp. Lat. var.," 4, p. 152 seq. (cp. JKSstlino 
Kawerau, l, p. 278), where he recommends confession, merely warning 
the penitent, " ut non fiducia confessiotis vel faciendce vel factce nitatur, 
sed in solius Dei clementissimam promissionem tota fidei plenitudine con- 
fidat, certissimus videlicet, quod, qui con/essro peccata sua promisit 
veniam, promissionem suarn fidelissine prcestabit." 
 To Wenceslaus Link, December 11, 1518, "Briefwechsel," 1, 
p. 316. 
I.--2 c 

A vast change of far-reaching consequence had taken place 
in Luther's conception of the appropriation of the itstitia Dei, 
hc had now reached an interpretation of the words istus ex 
fide vivit and of the vholc meaning of the gospel, upon 
which, notwithstanding the independence of his treatment 
of doctrine, hc had never hitherto ventured. 
Wc nmy well ask what event, what development, had led 
up to this. 
SaL'ation by faith alone and the absolutc assurance of 
one's state of grace, wcrc taught by Luther quite openly in 
:hc second course of lectures on the Psalms, which hc had 
commenced in 1518 (perhaps at the end of the year), and the 
beginning of which hc 1)ubli.hcd in 1519 with a 1)reface 
addressed to the Elector Frcdcricl, dated March 27, 1519 
(scc above, p. 285). This was the "Opertio,es i Psedmos," 
hi)on the publication of which hc was engaged until 1521, and 
which was finally left unfinished. 
This work he, cvcn at a later date, described as an entircL 
true exposition of his actual teaching on justification.  
Other lectures, delivered at an earlier period, received 
no such praise from him; on the contrary, hc never took 
the trouble of having them printed, and does not even 
mention them. Although the Commentary on Romans, 
which wc have already studied, had advanced a considerablc 
distance along the new lines of thought, nevertheless, at a 
later date its tone appeared too Catholic to l)lcasc him ; it 
did not contain the new creed " Credo me esse seIt'." 
The same is truc of the earlier course on the Psalms, of the 
lectures on Galatians, on IIcbrcvs and on the Epistle to 
Titus. Luther, as a rule, was very read), to have his writings 
printed, but these, after hc had entered upon the second 
stage of his development, hc plainly looked upon as unripe 
and incomplete. 
Simultaneously with the printing of the new Commentary 
on the Psahns he commenced that of another Commentary, 
also consisting of lectures. This is the shorte" of the two 
works on Galatians which he has left us in print (above, 
p. 306 f.). This Commentary on Galatians, together with the 
"Operetiones ia Psalmos," is the earliest witness to his new 
and definiti'e conception of sola tides as an entire confidence 
in one's justification. 
x _Iathesius, " Aufzeichnungen," p. 75. 

passage of Paul's became to me in very truth the gate of 
Paradise." lie adds that the reading of Augustine had strength- 
ened him in his interpretation, and, " provided with better 
weapons by means of this experience, I set about the exposition 
of the lsahns for the second time "; this work was, however, 
interrupted by the Diet of Worms. 
Luther, it is true, does not speak here of the monastery 
tower as the scene of his experience, but. this is described 
quitc plainly in his other statements given below. In thcse 
lhc privy situated above the " tIypocaustum " is mentioned 
as thc place where the discovery took place. They at the 
same time complete and confirm the account given in the 
Prefacc of the antecedents of this ncv eulightcnment, i.e. 
the immediately preceding terrors of God's avenging 
justice, the time it happened, viz. when Luther was engaged 
on the Psalms, and finally, the subject-matter of the 
The accounts from Luther's own lips must bcre be con- 
sidered collectively. 
Not only do they correspond exactly with Luther's 
condition of mind, a.s described above, but also, according to 
the chronological account already giveu of the development 
of his teaching, with the time he recommcnced his work on 
the Psalms, 1518-19. which period Lnthcr expressly mentions 
in the Preface as the date of the incident.  It is uot necessary, 
indeed, when we consider the above description of the course 
of his development, not possible, to assign an earlier date to 
the incident, though some have recently 1)ushcd it back to a 
time prior to his first exposition on the Psahns. Others, on 
account of some minor inexactitudes which occur in the 
principal account given in 1545 (see below, p. 399). hold it to 
be a fanciful invention of Luther in his old age in which he 
was merely summing up the resnlt of a long inward prccess. 
If every circumstauce be calmly weighed the historian must 
however, in the main, support Luther's account ; he is not 
free to sacrifice the valuable sonrce of knowledge, of such vast 
importance in arriving at a.n cstinaate of Luther's personality, 
presented by these testimonies. 
In what follows Luther's other testimonies to the same 
effect as that contained iu the Preface, will be duly brought 
forward and their peculiarities uoted. 
 "Copi psalterium secmdo interpretari .... Eo amw (JMDXIX) 
Jam redieram ad psalterium denuo iuterpretandum." 

Luther's pupil, Conrad Cordatus, iu recording the matter in 
his diary is quite right in emphasising, in Luther's own words, 
that the knowledge gained by the incident was : " Ergo ex lute 
est iustitia et ex iustitia vita " ; this is also done in the German 
Table-Talk, where we find a rather more detailed description of 
the inference di-awn by Luther: " Then I became of another 
mind and from that moment thought : We are to live as justified 
by faith, and the Justice of God, which is His attribute, shall save 
all who believe; these verses will no longer affright the poor 
siuners and those who are troubled in conscience, but on the 
contrary comfort them." .o 
In the reference rnadc to the event in the Commentary on Genesis 
(1540), the fact. that the just man lives by faith is also placed in 
the foregn-ound, and in this we may safely rely on the 
Commentary though it was not printed till after Luther's death.  
Here we read that it was the knowledge lie had acquired "under 
the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost " that "our life comes from 
faith " tliat had " opened out the whole of Scripture to him, 
and heaven itself." This, according to the passage in quest, ion, 
was the result of the " anxious work," which at the outset he had 
devoted to the comprehension of Ionmns i. 17. ]y the use of 
such an expression as " at the outset," " primum," the opening 
word of the whole passage which speaks of his development, he 
would appear to imply that it was then that the foundation was 
laid of the gn'eat evangelical truth concerning faith. This agrees 
with the title Mathesius bestows on his notes : " Occasion of the 
re-birth of the gospel by means of the Doctor." Iu the passage 
in question in the Commentary on Genesis the consoling faith 
which he had been commissioned to teach is contrasted  ith the 
" unbelief " prevalent in Popery, which has lost all experience of 
this security. " They did not know that unbelief was a sin . . . 
and yet conscience cannot find any real comfort in works. Let 
us therefore enjoy the blessing of God which is now inparted 
Luther's utterances so far have referred more to the 
inward occasion, to the time and the subject-matter of the 
experience from which the dogma of absolute assurance of 
period from 1515 to 1516 occurred in Luther, who in his first Com- 
menta.ry on the Psalms had been much more Catholic-minded. In 
fixing chronologically the date of the experience described in the 
Latin Prmfatio I have the fu'ther advantage of being supported by 
Luther's clear and definite statement. As he esteemed his second 
course on the Psalms so highly (see above, p. 386) and consigned the 
first to oblivion, it is difficult to imagine that he mistook the one for 
the other. On the other hand, a mistake as to the sequence of those 
idea which had made an impression on him in his youth might easily 
be explained by advancing years, like his mistakes concerning the time 
when he first became acquainted with certain authors (for instsmce, 
in this case, with Augustine).  P. 423. 
" " Verke," Erl. ed., 58, p. 370. Cp. pp. 336, 404. 
a See above, p. 388, n. 3. 


the discovery afforded him, passing from the storms of his 
crisis into what he took to be a safe haven of peace. 
The illusory talisman of absolute assurance of sah,ation 
was the result of the second stage of his development. 

3. Legends. Storm Signals 
On looking back in later )rears upon tile course of his 
spiritual progress ill the molmstery, Luther was unable to 
distinguish clearly between the various stages of his develop- 
ment. The incident in the tower, which had left the strongest 
impression on his memory, drew the first stage more and 
more into the foreground in his imagilmtion, so that in his 
accounts lie assigns to it au undue prominence to the 
disadvantage of tile two others. IIcncc tile want of clearness 
noticeable ill his statements with regard to the same. 
We find not merely obscurity, but actual error, particularly 
in his aeeonnt of the traditional interpretation and that 
which lie had himself begun to advocate of the Iuslilia Dei 
(Rom. i. 17). Luther is, in this matter, the originator of the 
great legend still current, even in our own day, which 
represents hiln as a Columbus discovering therein the central 
truth set forth by Paul; no one had been able to find the 
key to the passage before his glance penetrated to the 
truth. All the learned men of earlier times had said that 
iustitia there meant the avenging Justice of an angry God. 
As a matter of fact, in Luther's lectures on Genesis in 15[0-[1,  
it is asserted that all the doctors of the Church, with 
the exception of Augustine, had luisunderstood the verses 
Ilomans i. 16 f. ; Luther's Preface to his Latin works to 
some extent presupposes the same, for he says that he had, 
"according to the custom and use of all doctors" (" usu et con- 
suetudie omnium doclorum doclus "), understood the passa.-e 
as meaning that justice " by which God is Just and punishes 
sin," and only Augustine, with whom he had made common 
cause, had found the right interpretation (" iustitiam Dei 
interpretatur, qua ,os Deus induit"), although even the 
latter did not tcaell imputation clearly (see above, p. 392). 2 
1 See above p. 388, n. 3. V'e can hardly assume that such a state- 
ment was an error of the Notes ; it is more probable that Luther made 
a mistake in his verbal delivery. 
2 In other statements, such as that related by tteydenreich (above, 
p. 393), he assumes that no doctor was able to supply him with the right 
explanation : " No one came to open the door," etc. 

Grisar Hartmann.